Friday, 8 February 2013

Make Your Own Valentines Chocolate...Super Easy

You Can Even Make This With Kids

Everyone loves a bit of chocolate for Valentine's Day.  Here's an easy and fun idea for you.  Chocolate bark is super easy to make, you just melt your chocolate and add whatever takes your fancy to make the 'bark'. 

Does your family like dark chocolate, milk chocolate or white or a combination?   No matter what your tastes you can whip up a batch in less than an hour.  If it's a gift for your sweetheart, that gives you plenty of time to find a box or pretty bag and wrap it up too!

Here's the recipe:

Chop Your Chocolate:
Take 1 pound of good quality chocolate.  This is for your loved ones, so splurge on something wonderful like Lindt Excellence 50% Cacao or Valronha Grands Crus.

If you want to use white chocolate be sure to choose one that lists cocoa butter in the ingredients list.  If the product does not contain cocoa butter it won't melt properly and could burn.  I like Ghirardelli's white chocolate.

Chop up your chocolate into small pieces. This will make it easier to melt.  Make sure all your utensils are clean and dry. Water, even a drop or two, can cause chocolate to seize.

Prepare Your Tray:
Line rimmed cookie sheet with waxed paper. Parchment paper will work too.

Prepare Your Bark:
You will add your bark ingredients to the melted chocolate as it cools. How much will you need?  I'd start with 1 1/2 to 2 cups of bark ingredients.  Traditionally chocolatiers use whole toasted almonds, but the options are endless.  To get your imagination working here are a few ideas:

Nuts: chopped toasted hazelnuts, pistaschios, walnuts, pine nuts, cashews, honey roasted peanuts, macadamia nuts, fresh shelled peanuts

Dried Fruit: cranberries, cherries, pineapple, apricots, figs, apples, blueberries, kiwi, mango, raisins, currants

Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, hemp, chia

Peel:  candied orange peel, candied grapefruit peel, candied lemon peel, candied lime peel

Candy: toffee pieces, ice cream sprinkles, chopped licorice, candied ginger,  miniature marshmallow, peanut butter chips, crushed cookies, jelly beans, crushed peppermint

Melt your chocolate:
 My preferred method is to put the chocolate pieces into a small glass bowl and melt in the microwave on medium heat.  Start with small bursts of 15 to 20 seconds. In between bursts stir the chocolate. When it is almost completely melted take it out of the microwave and stir it until it is smooth and completely melted.

If you don't have a microwave (yes, there are lots of folks who don't own them) you can melt your chocolate in a double boiler, or in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Be extra careful you don't get any water on your chopped chocolate. Place it over the simmering water and stir it from time to time as it melts. When it is almost completely melted take it off the heat and continue to stir until it is smooth and lump free.

Pour the melted chocolate onto the prepared pan.  Tap the pan on the counter to level the melted chocolate. If necessary tilt the pan from side to side to spread and level the chocolate.

While the chocolate is still warm sprinkle your choice of toppings over the surface.  Set your pan aside and allow it to cool completely. Once the chocolate is completely set break it into pieces and wrap it up.  This IS a gift for your sweetheart isn't it?

Start to finish: 20 minutes
Cooling time:     1 to 2 hours
Servings: 8 to 12

Give it a try, easy, fun and delicious!

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