Chocolate Bark With Bite

I can't predict what you want or need to be the best gift-giver, mostest-hostess or big honking holiday Pollyanna. But I can predict that if you make chocolate bark, everyone will love you, praise your culinary genius and spread the kudos all the way to the North Pole.


Bark on bark. (Kim O'Donnel)

Here's why making chocolate bark will make you fabulous and the mistle in everyone's toe:

* It looks ultra glam but requires very few elementary steps, like chopping stuff and melting chocolate,

* It looks like a difficult and complicated kitchen project, but most of the work is at the store, sourcing the ingredients and

* The bark begs questions such as "Oooh, what's that little zip on my tongue?" or "What fruit is in there?"

When you offer up your secret ingredients, you can also mention the antioxidant boost not only from the dark chocolate but from the walnuts and the dried cherries. And the little zip comes from crystallized ginger, darling, which is good for your circulation. (And can't we all use a little help with that during wintry months?)

Wow them AND nourish them at the most caloric, fat-intensive time of the year. See, you really are a genius!

Now, chop chop! (I've been dying to use that sentence for months.) I expect full reports on the winning over of all those big party dogs with your most fabulous bark.

Dark Chocolate Bark With Walnuts and Dried Cherries
From January 2005 issue of Food and Wine magazine

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups walnut halves (6 ounces)
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup dried sour cherries (4 ounces), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

Method
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate and stir until smooth. Off the heat, stir in the walnuts, cherries and crystallized ginger until evenly coated.

Scrape the mixture onto prepared baking sheet and spread it into a 12-by-8 inch rectangle. Refrigerate for 10 minutes, or until firm enough to cut.

Cut the bark into 48 pieces (six rows by eight rows) and transfer to a plate. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Note: The bark can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to four days or refrigerated for up to two weeks.

By Kim ODonnel |  December 8, 2006; 11:18 AM ET Candy , Holiday Treats
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Comments

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Kim, I always wondered why a recipe like this has such strict storage requirements when each individual item could be stored airtight in a pantry for months? Does it have to do with the chocolate not being tempered?

Posted by: Herndon, VA | December 8, 2006 12:37 PM

I have a cookie exchange next week so I'll be back to evaluate these.

By the looks of them I'll like them.

Posted by: RoseG | December 8, 2006 12:39 PM

DARLINGS, WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE? THANKS

Posted by: HEY | December 8, 2006 2:26 PM

I'm the mom of a three-year-old with multiple food allergies, and I wanted to share a recipe for a gluten-free, non-allergenic chocolate bark, courtesy of Enjoy Life Foods (www.enjoylifefoods.com), which makes products free of the top eight allergens (and free of sesame as well, which is fast becoming a top allergen, and which my son is allergic to). This is easy, fast, and really good, no kidding, not some kind of weird, "special" food for "special" food-allergic people, just a really yummy chocolate bark for everyone.
Enjoy Lifeâ„¢ Chocolate Bark

Ingredients
1 10 oz. package Enjoy Lifeâ„¢ semi-sweet chocolate chips (dairy, soy and gluten free)
1 6 oz. package Enjoy Lifeâ„¢ Not Nuts! nut-free trail mix
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil (safflower or canola work well)

Directions
Grease or spray a 5"x11" or 8"x8" pan

Mix together Enjoy Lifeâ„¢ chocolate chips and oil in a microwave safe container. Microwave mixture on high for 30 second and stir. Continue microwaving mixture until melted while making sure to stir occasionally, about every 20 seconds. Total time may be about 1 minute, depending on the microwave oven.

Stir Enjoy Lifeâ„¢ Not Nuts! nut-free trail mix into the melted mixture and spread to about 1/4 - 1/2 inches thick, onto greased pan. Chill for 15 minutes. Remove from refrigerator, break into pieces and munch away! Store this scrumptious candy in an airtight container at room temperature and share with family and friends

Posted by: mary esselman roberts | December 8, 2006 2:42 PM

Kim - What about tempering the chocolate. Making this seems really easy, but I'd hate to dump those nice ingredients into something that's just going to be messy and melty at the first touch. I've never been able to master chocolate tempering, so I've stayed away from recipes like this.

Posted by: Choco-girl | December 8, 2006 4:31 PM

I've been making bark in lieu of Christmas cookies for several years now. It's become a tradition of sorts. And yes, so much easier than 8 kinds of cookies!

Posted by: Anon | December 8, 2006 5:03 PM

I'd like to see an answer to Herndon's question about the strict storage requirements. I, too, think that the shelflife seems pretty short. What say you, Kim?

Posted by: Suzanne | December 8, 2006 5:46 PM

I made this recipe when Kim posted it last year, and it tastes good and is pretty easy. Last year the recipe said to toast the walnut halves, then chop them before adding to the mixture.
My three comments are that I'd use fewer walnuts than recommended and reserve some of the ingredients to sprinkle atop the spread-out chocolate mixture. Also, it took at least 30 minutes to harden in the fridge, not 10.

Posted by: Sarah | December 12, 2006 4:37 PM

Actually, Suzanne & Choco-Girl, with this recipe, you're not tempering, you're merely melting, so you needn't worry as much as you would with making truffles. Tempering means melting, heating to 115 degrees (dark chocolate) or 110 degrees (milk or white choc), then stirring to cool, down to about 86-90 degrees (dark) or 84-88 (milk/white). This is the temp desired for dipping, etc. Hope that helps.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | December 12, 2006 4:47 PM

Hey Sarah: I agree with you about needing fewer walnuts (maybe 1 cup instead) and needing more time in the fridge for chilling. Good notes. I have toasted and not toasted the nuts and have noticed little difference, so I that's why I left out mention this time round.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | December 12, 2006 4:50 PM

i'm all out of crystallized ginger - but plan on using walnuts and dried cranberries. any ideas on what i can sub in for the ginger to give it a little zip?

i was thinking some cardamom - i only have ground and that might be too overpowering?

any thoughts?

Posted by: alexia | December 14, 2006 12:36 PM

I made this over the weekend. It turned out great although i made some minor tweaks with the recipe. I used dried red raspberries instead of cherries. I used about a half cup.

I'm wondering about making a milk chocolate version even though it wouldn't have all the health benefits.

Posted by: Jen | December 18, 2006 12:52 PM

Sounds yummy. Is there a difference between crystallized ginger and candied ginger?

Posted by: sylvia | December 20, 2006 5:50 PM

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