Some months back my friend Pam, one of the best bakers I know, made a plate of deep, dark chocolate bark studded with roasted nuts and seeds for a casual cocktail party. It was the hands-down hit of the evening. I ate my weight in chocolate that night and made a mental note then and there: holiday food gift idea: Pam’s crazy-good chocolate bark.
And here we are suddenly, in December, when creativity joins forces in the kitchen with the need for holiday gifts for friends, neighbors, grandparents, and our children’s hard-working teachers. This chocolate bark fills the bill.
First, it’s pretty easy to do. I tinkered with Pam’s recipe, paring the bark down to just three little ingredients — chocolate, almonds, and golden raisins — melted together, spread on a baking sheet to cool, and then snapped into pretty pieces.
Second, it’s not an especially expensive endeavor. While you want to step it up beyond standard supermarket baking chocolate, you don’t need to invest in the fanciest brands. I used Trader Joe’s bittersweet chocolate and it was excellent. As for nuts and dried fruit, you can substitute roughly chopped almonds for slivered or use roughly chopped hazelnuts. In either case, be sure the nuts are roasted first. Dried cranberries, dried cherries, or even regular seedless raisins will do nicely in place of golden raisins.
It’s also a plus that this chocolate bark will keep long after most holiday perishables have come and gone, making it ideal for friends near and far (not to mention your own private stash).
And then there are the antioxidants in all that dark chocolate. What better gift to give a friend than squeaky clean arteries?
- 1 pound bittersweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup roasted, slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Chop the chocolate into small pieces.
- Melt the chocolate on the stove in the top of a double boiler. Alternatively, put in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring after each one, until melted and smooth.
- Once the chocolate is melted and silky, add the almonds and raisins and stir well.
- Pour the chocolate onto the parchment paper and use a rubber spatula to spread it in a thin layer. It will cover the better part of the baking sheet.
- Put the baking sheet into the fridge for 10 minutes. Remove from fridge and leave on the counter to cool and harden for several hours or overnight.
- Once completely cool (crisp enough to snap between your fingers), break the chocolate into about 40 pieces that are a couple of bites each.
- Store in an air-tight container or package up for gifts.