Every December the members of Food Bloggers Los Angeles get together at my house for our annual Cookie and Cookbook Swap. I love hosting this gathering because everyone's in a great mood (SUGAR! BUTTER! CHOCOLATE!) and it's a festive way to start off the holiday season.
There's only one problem: I don't make a lot of cookies.
This year, short on time and motivation, I defaulted to my favorite chocolate bark. I call this Antioxidant Chocolate Bark because it's full of things that are good for you: very dark chocolate, dried cherries, dried blueberries, and nuts. It's gluten-free, dairy-free (if you choose dairy-free chocolate), delicious, and extremely easy to make. In fact, I put together the super-size batch for our cookie swap last Friday in the 20 minutes between when my alarm clock went off and when we had to leave for the school bus stop.
Feel free to use whatever combination of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit you have in your pantry. Sometimes I even crush amaretti (crisp Italian almond cookies) and add the crumbs in for an extra crunch. Do use salted nuts; the salt brings out the flavor of the bittersweet chocolate perfectly.
Scroll down for links to all the amazing cookies made by FBLA members at our 2013 Cookie and Cookbook Swap!
Antioxidant Chocolate Bark
One of the easiest and healthiest homemade treats you can make for holiday gifts. Very dark bittersweet chocolate with dried cherries, blueberries, and apricots, plus pistachios and almonds.
- 1 pound very dark chocolate (72% cocoa solids), chopped
- 1/2 cup dried apricots
- 3/4 cup dried tart cherries
- 3/4 cup dried blueberries
- 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, roasted and salted
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, roasted and salted
Line a half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper.Break the chocolate into pieces and put into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 45 seconds, then let stand 1 minute. Stir and microwave again for 30 seconds. Repeat until the chocolate is nearly melted, with just a few little chunks remaining. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir continuously until the residual heat in the bowl melts the rest of the chocolate. (Alternatively, melt the chocolate in a double boiler on the stove.)While the chocolate is melting, chop the apricots and cherries into smaller pieces, roughly 1/4 inch. You can also chop the pistachios if you like (I usually don't).When the chocolate is melted and smooth, dump in all the dried fruit and nuts. Stir until everything is coated. Pour the chocolate mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into a thin, even layer with a spatula or the back of a spoon.Leave the chocolate bark at room temperature to set. The temperature in the room will determine how long the chocolate bark will take to harden - the cooler the room, the quicker the bark will be done. Don't refrigerate it, though, or the chocolate will lose its glossy shine.To serve, break into pieces, working quickly so the heat of your hands doesn't melt the chocolate (always a problem for me).
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 20+ servings
FBLA 2013 Cookie Exchange Recipes
- Chai Tea Cookies -- Cathy Arkle of She Paused 4 Thought (She also got tired of rolling the dough and refashioned the rest into Baby Hedgehog cookies.)
- Butter Pecan Fudge -- Dorothy Reinhold (me!) from Shockingly Delicious.
- Antioxidant Chocolate Bark -- Erika Kerekes (our hostess) of In Erika's Kitchen.
- Sweet Potato Marshmallow Bars with White Chocolate Chips -- Jennifer Richmond of Kitchy Cooking.
- Chocolate Chip and Apricot Walnut Rugelach and Vegan Chocolate Mini Cupcakes ("Naughty & Nice Cookies") -- Dana of Foodie Goes Healthy
- Vintage Sponge Drops with Double Fudge Filling -- Leslie Macchiarella of Bake This Cake.
- Sicilian Christmas cookies -- Judy Lyness of Two Broads Abroad.
- Cranberry Orange Walnut Sugar Cookies -- Patricia Rose of Fresh Food in a Flash.
- Brown Butter Praline Chocolate Chip Cookies -- Valentina Wein of Cooking On The Weekends.
- Mini Chocolate Nut Sandwich Cookies -- Kelly Page of Tasting Page.
- Rosemary Raisin Cocktail Shortbread -- Sharon Graves of Cheesy Pennies.
- Saketini Christmas Balls, Chocolate Macarons with Japanese Wine Cream Centers, and Matcha Green Tea Cookies with Chocolate Centers & Espresso Cookies with Caramel Fillings -- Kim Watkinson of Ninja Baking.
- Blueberry Coconut Mini Cupcakes, Rainbow Chocolate Bark, and Vegan Gingersnaps -- Judy Weintraub of Bumbleberry Breeze.
- Chocolate-Dipped Apricots with Pistachios -- Adair Seldon of Lentil Breakdown.
- Spumoni Shortbread -- Nancy Rose Eisman of Adventures with Nancy Rose.
- Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cardamom Gingersnap Cookies -- Alison Ashton of Nourish Network .
- Gluten-Free Pumpkin Oat Bars -- Alanna Waldron of Eats Real Food.
- Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookies -- Tanaya Ghosh of Tanaya's Table. (Tanaya's Table, the blog, will launch in 2014.)
- Black and White Cookies -- Tina Kil. (Her blog isn’t up yet, but watch for her contributions in the future!)
- Chiang Mai Chicken in Endive Spears -- Cathy Arkle of She Paused 4 Thought.
- Seasonal salad -- Nancy Rose Eisman of Adventures with Nancy Rose.
- Barrel-Aged Sazerac -- Jennifer Richmond of Kitchy Cooking.