Dark Chocolate Bark Recipe: Dark Chocolate with Caramelized Nuts & Pink Salt
Delicious Gluten-Free Dessert, Snack or Holiday Gift
You've been invited to an intimate little dinner party. Your friend is famous for his gourmet fare and you've been asked to bring dessert. But there's one hitch: your friend has celiac disease and is sensitive to gluten. Worse yet, you know nothing about gluten-free baking. What now?
Chocolate is naturally gluten-free, as are raw nuts and dried fruits. So why not make chocolate bark? Both sophisticated and delicious, this dark chocolate bark is encrusted with glazed nuts for extra crunch and a flourish of sea salt for a burst of mild saltiness. Your friends will think you've slaved for hours in the kitchen when in reality, you can whip up chocolate bark in less than an hour. Allow a couple more hours for cooling.
When choosing chocolate, make sure there are no messages on the label such as "processed in a wheat-processing facility" to ensure it is truly gluten-free. If you're giving chocolate bark as a gift, wrap in colorful paper or stack it in a simple, organic paper box. At home, store in an airtight storage container, preferably a glass container, for several days.
- It's important to use high quality chocolate for this recipe. We use Lindt 85% cacao, but Scharffen Berger or an organic chocolate such as Green & Black's would be equally delicious.
- For gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate, try the highly rated "Enjoy Life" chips seen in the Amazon capsule (right).
- If you don't enjoy dark chocolate, this bark is fabulous with milk or white chocolate.
- Instead of almonds try walnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews or a mixture thereof.
- To simplify this recipe even further, skip the caramelization and make this chocolate bark with raw almonds or other nuts.
- Instead of dried cherries try other dried fruits such as blueberries, cranberries, strawberries or chopped apricots.
- It's important to use good finishing salt, not regular table salt, for a mildly salty crunch. We are partial to Andean pink salt. Click here to learn more: Andean Pink Salt of the Sacred Valley.
- If the chocolate is salted while still in its liquid state, it will absorb the salt. If you wait until the chocolate has completely solidified, the salt will roll off. We recommend salting while the chocolate is still tacky to touch.
How to Melt Chocolate
For this recipe you only need to melt the chocolate, not temper it. Tempering is a more lengthy process which gives the chocolate a glossy appearance. You can melt chocolate over a double boiler, stirring constantly. I find it quicker and easier to use the microwave. Be careful not to heat the chocolate for too long or at too high a temperature or it will burn. Stop melting while there are still chunks of chocolate and stir until it melts completely. Only use a dry bowl and dry utensils to stir the chocolate as liquid can cause the chocolate to "seize" up.
- Break chocolate into uniform-sized pieces. For example, if using Lindt chocolate break each square in half and then in half again for a total of 4 pieces. Place all chocolate pieces in a microwave-safe glass bowl.
- Microwave chocolate for one minute on 50% power.
- Remove bowl from the microwave and stir chocolate well. Return it to the microwave and heat again on 50% power for one minute.
- Remove bowl from microwave and stir with a spatula for about thirty seconds, until the chocolate is smooth and completely melted. Repeat the procedure if chocolate pieces still remain.
- 7 ounces (200 grams) high quality dark chocolate
- 1 cup raw almonds or mixture of raw nuts
- 1/3 cup dried cherries, or other dried fruit
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2-3 pinches Andean pink salt, or other quality finishing salt
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- Pour water then sugar into a medium saucepan. Boil on medium-high heat until sugar turns golden amber, 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat immediately so the sugar doesn't burn.
- Add almonds and stir to coat.
- Working quickly, pour glazed almonds onto a Silpat or other non-stick surface. Separate the nuts before they cool.
- When cool enough to touch, after about 5 minutes, break excess sugar from the nuts and set nuts aside.
- Gently melt chocolate as indicated in the capsule above.
- Cover half of a 10 x 15 inch baking sheet with waxed paper. Pour the melted chocolate evenly over the surface of the waxed paper. You should have an approximately 10 x 7 inch rectangle of chocolate.
- Evenly sprinkle almonds and cherries over the surface of the chocolate. Gently press them into the chocolate. Allow to cool at room temperature for about two hours, until firm. You can speed up cooling in the refrigerator, but don't refrigerate for more than 15 minutes as the surface of the chocolate can quickly appear "frosted".
- Sprinkle sea salt, using just 2-3 pinches, over the surface of the chocolate bark. See "tips" for important details on salting the chocolate. Cut into wedges with a sharp knife.
- Serve with coffee, tea, wine or whiskey for a sophisticated dessert. Wines that pair well with this chocolate bark include Syrah, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Port and Zinfandel wines.