A few years ago, I was lucky enough to visit Brussels just before Christmas. The weather was rather dreary – drizzly and grey as we wandered the cobblestone streets admiring the exquisite architecture…
… but no matter, for in this city known for their chocolate, we spent a solid hour wandering from one enchanting chocolate shop to the next, searching for the perfect chocolates to pop in our suitcases to carry home. We admired chocolates stuffed with a dizzying selection nuts or fruit or speculoos, elegant be-ribboned boxes of chocolates, and chocolates shaped as tiny St. Nick's. Some might consider the amount of chocolate I carried home rather embarrassing. I would prefer to think of it as generous.
While I admired the hours of craftsmanship that went into those painstakingly crafted boxes of Belgian chocolates, I am a gal who prefers a messier, rustic approach to chocolate making. My answer: chocolate bark, my friends. This stuff is quite possibly the easiest item you can add to your Christmas cookie assortment. If you channel your inner Van Gogh or Jackson Pollack, it's possible to swirl and splatter way to impressively elegant chocolate creations.
My version combines a few of my favorite ingredients… swirled white and semi-sweet chocolate, Marcona almonds (I like the ones from Trader Joe’s with a bit of rosemary and sea salt), and tart dried cherries. Oh, and I sprinkled the final creation with a bit of extra sea salt for good measure, as sweet + salty is my jam. The beauty of this recipe is that you can make it with your favorite things… (This Mix-and-Match Food Network recipe offers dozens of wonderful combinations.)
As an added perk: chocolate bark is gluten-free. You're welcome, gluten-avoiders of all stripes.
Let the great cookie binge of 2017 begin at House Morell.
White and Dark Chocolate Bark with Marcona Almonds and Dried Cherries
Servings: about 18 smallish pieces of bark
- 1 cup good quality semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
- 1 cup good quality white chocolate chips or chunks
- 1/3 cup salted Marcona almonds with rosemary (can be found at Trader Joe’s… or add a 1/2 teaspoon each of sea salt and dried rosemary to your almonds
- 1/3 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped.
- optional: an extra 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, shiny-side up; smooth out the creases.
- Make sure all your tools are dry. Place the white and dark chocolate chips in two separate microwave-safe bowls.
- For each bowl of chocolate, microwave for 30 seconds, then stir with a rubber spatula. Continue microwaving and stirring at 30-second intervals until melted, 3 to 5 minutes total, depending on your microwave.
- Pour the 2 chocolates side by side on the prepared baking sheet; use the rubber spatula to spread the chocolate into a rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick, swirling the chocolate into an elegant design as you go
- Scatter the nuts and cherries onto the chocolate, arranging them so each bite has a mix of flavors and textures. Press them down a bit, Sprinkle with a bit of extra sea salt, if you like. Let the bark harden completely at room temperature, about 1 hour. (If the room is warm, you may need to freeze the bark for a few minutes.)
- Break into pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks.