אנונימי Tuesday 17.3.15 No comments 1681 views

For the Love of Chocolate

Sometimes I miss the days when a candy bar could solve it all.

As a child, the holiday of Purim was my favorite day of the year. Like many other children, I was enchanted by the story of the brave queen who saved the Jewish people. I loved the theatrical part of dressing up and wearing makeup, and I enjoyed watching all the grown-ups behaving a bit sillier than usual. But more than anything else, as the child of health-conscious parents, Purim was such a wonderful day because all sugar boundaries were broken and we were allowed to eat unlimited amounts of candy and chocolate. I was the happiest kid that day; nothing could make me sad.

As a health-conscious adult now myself, I hardly eat those things anymore. To be honest, despite my love for sweets (I’m a pastry chef after all…), my taste has developed and became more sophisticated. Store-bought chocolate bars and processed snacks don’t have the same effect they used to have on me. Like my taste, I also developed as a person, and it takes more than just some sugar to make my day perfect. Yet, I keep a kitchen drawer filled with all of this junk.

Why? I say it’s for guests, but I think the real reason is because whenever I open the drawer, the seven-year-old-Avital in me is very happy and proud of the woman she became (a woman with her own big candy drawer!!).

This recipe is for the seven-year-old-me who will not accept a Purim with no chocolate, and for the 27-year-old-me who has a list of demands for her chocolate (high quality, sophisticated, healthy, homemade… oh, and of course- easy, after all I have a life and a full time job). Here is a recipe for chocolate bark. This is the ultimate, delicious holiday gift - it’s pretty, tasty, versatile, gluten free /vegan/both and most importantly, looks sophisticated but is so easy to prepare.

I made 2 versions of the bark:  one with white chocolate, pistachios and dried apricots, and one with bittersweet chocolate, cashews, apricots and sea salt (yes! sea salt).  However, this recipe is endlessly adaptable, so feel free to play around and try new combinations.

 1) Prepare the Pan

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2)  Pick Your Ingredients

Chocolate: 400 g bittersweet chocolate /semisweet chocolate /white chocolate /half bittersweet and half white chocolate (for swirled bark)

Crunchy Toppings: 1/2 cup chopped nuts- any kind you like, salted or not.

Chewy Toppings: 1/2 cup chopped dry fruit/ chopped marshmallows

Spices (optional): sea salt/ coffee/ chili flakes/ peppermint

3) Melt the Chocolate: Keep half a cup of chopped chocolate on the side.  Melt the rest of the chocolate in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, stirring constantly. Turn off the fire and add the rest of the chocolate – it will melt from the heat of the melted chocolate. Don’t worry if this takes a few moments.

4) Spread It Out

Pour the chocolate onto the parchment paper; use a rubber spatula to spread it into a square, about 1/4 of an inch thick.

(For swirled bark, pour the 2 types of chocolate side by side on the baking sheet; use the spatula to swirl them together.)

5) Add Your Toppings

Press your crunchy and chewy toppings into the chocolate, arranging them so that each bite has a mix of flavors and textures. Sprinkle with spices, if desired. Let the bark harden completely at room temperature for about 2 hours. (If you are in Israel in the summer, you may need to freeze the bark for a few minutes.) Break into pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks.

 

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