Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine Chocolate Bark

This recipe will be either really easy for you or really difficult, depending on the kind of cook you are. It has no measurements. I happen to think that makes it the easiest confection to confect, but some people panic without very specific instructions. Sorry, those people.

In its simplest form, chocolate bark is just chocolate chips (or baking chocolate squares), melted, spread out, and chilled back into solid form. But you have to add something to it. Otherwise you’ve just made a plain chocolate bar.

Nicole’s Valentine Chocolate Bark
Toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sea salt

Candy the orange peel: Scrape long strips of the peel off of the orange.* This is most easily done with the handy zester/garnishing tool I am wielding in the first picture, because this tool gets the peel off without much of the white pith.
*If all you have is an ordinary orange peeler made for separating the peel and pith together from the orange segments, you’ll have the extra steps of peeling the orange in large pieces, boiling the peel in plain water until it is soft, then using a spoon to scrape the pith off of the back of the peel, and then slicing the peel into thin strips. Now you may continue.

Put the strips in a small pot, squeeze the orange’s juice into the pot, and add equal parts water and sugar, enough that the peel can float around. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced significantly, about 20-30 minutes.

Using a fork, transfer the orange peel from the pot of syrup to a cutting board dusted with sugar. Roll or toss the peel around to get some of the sugar stuck to it. The peel will seem similar to a gummy worm at this point. Chop it into small pieces.

Make the chocolate bark: For this part, it is crucial to have everything ready before you melt the chocolate, or the chocolate will begin to solidify while you’re still chopping the walnuts or rummaging through your pantry looking for Craisins.

Have your candied orange peel, along with the craisins, walnuts and sea salt, ready nearby. Have a baking sheet out on the counter and lined with wax paper.

Pour the chocolate chips into a microwave-safe glass bowl and microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval, until the chocolate is all melted.

Dump the melted chocolate onto the wax-paper-lined baking sheet and spread it into a ¼-inch thick rectangle (thin enough to break into pieces when it’s solid but not so thin it will fall apart).

Immediately sprinkle the candied orange peel, chopped walnuts, and Craisins over the chocolate. Gently press them into the surface with the palm of your hand. Finely sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the whole thing.

Put the baking sheet (with the chocolate on it) in the fridge for at least an hour. When the chocolate is fully solid, break the rectangle into pieces. (Just pick up an edge, peel the wax paper off of the bottom, and gently try to bend the chocolate – a section will snap off.)

Store the bark in the fridge; it can get slightly soft at room temperature and does melt in your hands.

BONUS: Use the leftover orange sugar syrup and the chocolate remaining on your spatula and in the glass bowl! Add some milk to the bowl and microwave it for a minute or two (just don’t let it boil). Scrape the chocolate down from the sides of the bowl, stirring until it melts off of the spatula and blends with the hot milk. Pour it out into a mug. Add the syrup leftover from candying the orange peel. Drink.

It should be obvious that this year’s Valentine’s Day dessert was far more successful than 2010’s Lollipies mostly in that it was, well, successful. But, my favorite Valentine dessert so far has been the peanut butter mousse I made five or six years ago. I must make it again someday.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I love the step-by-step pics. You're really good at those. Also, I'm excited about all this blogging you've been doing!