Sunday, December 8, 2013

Antioxidant chocolate bark: My favorite homemade holiday gift

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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!

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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).
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 20+ servings

FBLA 2013 Cookie Exchange Recipes

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Cathy @ She Paused 4 Thought said...

The bark was delicious! Thanks for hosting such a great party as always. You are the best.

Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious said...

So simple, so good. Endless possibilities to personalize this!

Nancy Rose Eisman said...

I love this bark! It's chunky, chewy, crunchy, dark chocolate creamy, and antioxidant filled too!

Alanna said...

The bark was melt-in-your-mouth delicious! The only thing I regret is not taking more of it...

The Ninja Baker said...

Great tip about salted nuts bringing out the yumminess of the chocolate. Your fruit combo with the dark chocolate is a marriage made in heaven, Erika.

Alison at Nourish Network said...

This bark was muy tasty! Thanks for hosting this lovely get-together.

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