What do you make for dessert after a long and utterly satisfying dinner party with friends? There are endless possibilities. For me, the search for the right dessert is a thrilling hunt for just the right thing. If it doesn't come to mind right away I'll pour over my collection of cookbooks and magazine tear-outs for inspiration. I think about seasonality of ingredients, the menu, tastes of the guests, time I have to work with, cost, best way to serve it, number of guests and so on. Sometimes the right recipe doesn't exist so it needs to be created. That is what happened with this chocolate bark and it was so easy and fun to do! If you are shy about experimenting with recipes this is a good one to try. It will surely boost your confidence. I also think that it's a perfect recipe to have the kids help with and you could even let them pick the ingredients they like. What kid or adult wouldn't love to be set free in the bulk bin section of the grocery store to find favorite ingredients to throw in some chocolate? Really, any combination of dried fruits and nuts or candies will work with this. I was so glad that this particular combination turned out to be a real crowd pleaser.
There are also many ways you could flavor the chocolate instead of the espresso powder. Try a small amount of cinnamon with walnuts, candied orange peel, dried currants or figs and sea salt. Or a scant amount of cayenne pepper with almonds, dried cherries, dried banana chips and pepitas. Whatever you do try, I hope you'll share it with us here at The Joyful Kitchens!
This recipe yields a bit over a pound depending on how much good stuff you throw in.
DARK CHOCOLATE BARK WITH TOASTED WALNUTS, CRYSTALIZED GINGER, DATES AND SMOKED SEA SALT
1 11 1/2-oz bag (about 60 % cocoa) bittersweet chocolate chips, about 2 cups
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1 cup pitted and diced fancy medjool dates
1/2 cup candied ginger, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon smoked sea salt flakes or regular fleur de sel
Line a small baking sheet with foil or parchment. Melt the chocolate chips in medium bowl over saucepan of simmering water, stirring until melted smooth. Stir in the espresso powder until well combined. Pour melted chocolate mixture out onto foil, spreading with offset spatula to thickness of 1/4 inch or so. Scatter ingredients evenly over chocolate, finishing with the salt. Chill until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes. Peel off foil and cut for a more refined look or break into irregular pieces for a more rustic look. Serve slightly chilled.