Two years ago, I was lucky enough to spend a few days in 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. Carefully sculpted chocolates, and elegant, fancy little boxes of chocolates. Some might consider the amount of chocolate I carried home rather embarrassing. I would prefer to think of it as generous.
I particularly loved these St. Nicks:
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 collection. And so very delicious… and I think rather elegant in its own way.
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 it with a bit of extra sea salt for good measure. 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.)
Oh, and come to think of it, chocolate bark is gluten-free. Perfect for gluten-free friends.
Yup, the great cookie binge of 2014 continues at House Morell… Next, I think I’ll pull out my cookie cutters…
Marcona Almond and Dried Cherry White and Dark Chocolate 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.
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 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.
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.