Chocolate Bark : Two For One

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I have wanted to tell you about this candy for two months now. I made both of these chocolate barks around Christmas to gift to other folks. The friends and family who received the chocolate seemed to enjoy the gifts. The thing about chocolate bark that always kept me from making some was this thought: you’re just melting chocolate, putting stuff in it, then allowing it reshape into chocolate like it started off as… Really?! It felt too simple. Then the holidays rolled around and I thought about the food gifts I’ve made in the past, wanting to do something different. I came back to the idea of chocolate bark. It wouldn’t be overly time consuming and really the result is beautiful, so long as you top it with some color contrast.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and if you’re looking for an easy, impressive looking treat, either of these recipes will suffice. For the first version, you can substitute dried cranberries or cherries to offer a little deep red hue (or add them along with the blueberries for a happy berry overload). The limitations depend solely on your imagination.

Another thing though… The second recipe features maple rosemary bourbon pecans and they are DELICIOUS on their own, nevermind any chocolate at all… In fact, after I made these candies, I had to go grocery shopping for more pecans just to make a triple batch of the nuts for us to snack on. Eating just one is not even a possibility. So, prepare yourself…

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White and Dark Chocolate Bark with Pistachios, Dried Blueberries and Toasted Coconut

Ingredients:
1 pound white chocolate
1 pound dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
½ cup shelled pistachios, chopped roughly
½ cup dried blueberries
½ cup large coconut flakes

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Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spread the coconut flakes on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake the coconut, occasionally stirring until the flakes begin to turn golden brown (typically, this will take somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside. Fill a medium saucepan with 1 inch of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Set a large heatproof bowl over the saucepan, making sure water doesn’t touch bottom of bowl at all. Break the dark chocolate into pieces, into the bowl. Cook, stirring, until smooth. Remove bowl from saucepan. Pour the melted chocolate onto the parchment lined baking sheet, using a spatula to spread it to about 1/4-inch thick. Refrigerate until the chocolate sets (30 minutes or so).

Once the dark chocolate has set, refill the medium saucepan you used with 1 inch of water (if there’s still enough water in the pan from the first melting, it’s okay to use that!). Set a clean, large heatproof bowl over the water, making sure there is zero moisture in it. Break up the white chocolate into the bowl. Stir until the chocolate melts smoothly. Remove from the heat and let the melted chocolate sit for a few minutes to cool slightly, stirring occasionally.

Remove the dark chocolate from your refrigerator. Gently pour the white chocolate over the dark chocolate, using a spatula to spread it over the dark chocolate completely. Working quickly, sprinkle on the pistachios, dried blueberries, and toasted coconut. Gently press down with your hands, to make sure the toppings sit into the chocolate. If you have any melted white chocolate remaining, use a spoon to drizzle it over the toppings. (If you don’t have any leftovers, don’t worry.) Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, until completely set. Once both layers of chocolate are completely set, use a sharp knife to cut the bark into pieces (as big or little as you’d like!). Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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Dark Chocolate Bark with Maple-Rosemary-Bourbon Pecans, Dried Cherries and Coconut

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted, raw pecan halves
1 tablespoon good quality bourbon
2 tablespoon maple syrup
3 ½ tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 medium rosemary sprigs
1 pound dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
½ cup dried tart cherries
2 tablespoons finely shredded coconut

Directions:

Prepare the pecans: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small saucepan, combine the bourbon, maple syrup, water, salt, and one of the rosemary sprigs in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, until the salt dissolves. Stir in the pecans. Allow them to sit in the mixture for 15 minutes. Spread the pecans in a single layer on your prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until dry, fragrant, and toasty smelling. Allow the pecans to cool completely.

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Line another baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside. Fill a medium saucepan with 1 inch of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Set a large heatproof bowl over the saucepan, making sure water doesn’t touch bottom of bowl at all. Break the dark chocolate into pieces, into the bowl. Cook, stirring, until smooth. Remove bowl from saucepan. Pour the melted chocolate onto the parchment lined baking sheet, using a spatula to spread it to about 1/4-inch thick. Working quickly, arrange the pecans across the chocolate. Also evenly distribute the dried cherries. Chop up the remaining rosemary sprig roughly. Sprinkle it over the chocolate, along with the coconut flakes. Refrigerate the chocolate for 40-50 minutes, until completely set.

When the chocolate has completely set, use a sharp knife to cut the bark into pieces (also as big or little as you’d like!). Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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