Thursday, December 6, 2007

French Chocolate Bark

I love chocolate even though it is a migraine trigger. This week's episode of Barefoot Contessa on FoodTv was dedicated to the holidays. Her big recipe that got my attention had chocolate, dried fruit and nut done in a "bark".

I've had traditional "almond bark" made with white chocolate but it is one of those candies that coats your mouth and tongue with slime so I don't care for it much. (I suspect its the white chocolate that is really just the cocoa butter without the needed solids that makes it that way).

My very general rule of thumb with most recipes to simply follow as directed. Make notes on what worked or not. There are occasions that I look at it, see it is similar to what I have done in the past and start altering ingredients to suit my tastes. Making notes all along so I can repeat it in the future. Candy making is a newish venture for me so I tend to follow the instructions to get the techniques down pat.

The recipe:
9 1/2 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces very good bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Melt the 2 chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.

Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Using a ruler and a pencil, draw a 9 by 10-inch rectangle on the paper. Turn the paper face down on the baking sheet.

Pour the melted chocolate over the paper and spread to form a rectangle, using the outline. Sprinkle the cashews, apricots and cranberries over the chocolate.

Set aside for 2 hours until firm. Cut the bark in 1 by 3-inch pieces and serve at room temperature.

So now you have the basic directions. I used the basic Nestle semi-sweet chips as I figured why fool with success. For the other I used Valrhona "61% Cocoa Extra Bitter" which I purchased at Surfas recently. This is one of those times I opted to use the double boiler method instead of the trusty microwave. Chocolate scorches too easy and I didn't want to risk the good stuff, yet.

I used whole dry roasted salted cashews as I really like the salty contrast with the bittersweet of the chocolate.

I cut things up the way Ina showed on the FoodTV program.

Instead of parchment paper I used a silpat sheet. To quote my pal Ruth666 "Life is good with silpat". No kidding nothing sticks to it and clean up is amazing. Rather than try to write on it I put a cut piece of paper under the silpat sheet in the size needed for the final bark.

I know enough about chocolate is that it gets this white powdery "bloom" if it is cooled too fast and loses its "temper". didn't get mad, temper is its ability to set without bloom that you need to be aware of with working with chocolate. Another post for another time. So once assembled I put a piece of plastic wrap gently over it to avoid getting dust on it while it cooled.

It is actually some tasty stuff. A couple of things I learned in the process. Use split cashew pieces. Whole nuts split in half while you are cutting your bark into bite size pieces. Cut the apricots about the same size as the cranberry as they will stick better in the bark while cutting it.

Of course since I nailed this one it is time to experiment. Ruth666 turned me on to Vosage Haut Chocolat. They do some pretty amazing pairings with chocolate. The Red Fire (ancho & chipotle chile with cinnamon) and Bacon Bar give me ideas for this bark and fudge too.

Final note here before I close, if you haven't read Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa collection you should. She gives great ideas on parties and history of food with shortcuts that won't affect the final product. She also gives great references to find stuff. If it weren't for her I would not have found the exact address for E. Dehillerin in Paris.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting your results!