14 December, 2011

Dark Chocolate Bark with roasted almonds, pepitas, sunflower seeds and sea salt

Chocolate is my weakness, and often a saving grace. This week I am embarking (pardon the pun) on two very exciting activities: outdoor ice skating and gourmet chocolate making.

Apparently there is a world-famous dark chocolate bark product from a French-born artisan chocolatier, Jacques Torres.  He opened his first chocolate factory in New York in 2000 and prides himself on premium ingredients without preservatives. (Jump here to read some great tips).   Torres, or 'Mr. Chocolate',  sells this stuff for $28 per pound.  I made the same amount (and from his recipe) for about $10.  Weeeee!  Now off to find a pair of skates...

Jacques Torres Dark Chocolate Bark (from Food & Wine, March 2011)
1 pound dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa)
1 1/4 cups whole almonds
3/4 cup raw unsalted pepitas and sunflower seeds
coarse sea salt

Roast the pepitas and sunflower seeds, along with a good sprinkle of sea salt, in the oven. This is probably the most important part, as I feel the salt really adds je ne sais quoi to the product.  Also roast the almonds, perhaps in a small pan on the stovetop.  Remove both sets from oven/stovetop when the roasting casts a lovely fragrance in the air (on low heat this should take about 7-12 minutes) and set aside.

Line a medium sized baking sheet with parchment paper.  Chop and melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
Add the nuts to the chocolate and stir well until everything is enrobed in the chocolate (amazing!).  (If all the buts are completely covered they will stay fresh longer).

Pour the mixture onto the parchment lined sheet and spread out to make a 1/2 inch thick giant chocolate bar.  Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to harden.   Flip the chocolate onto a clean working surface and peel back the paper.  This will be the smooth side of the product - the other side is bumpy and attractive with all the nuts and seeds poking out.)

I made a double batch of this recipe so there was a lot of chocolate to cut.  I used a sharp knife to divide the chocolate into 6 rows and then broke them into roughly 18 pieces.

The result: a decadent treat to serve as a take-away treat to dinner party guests, edible gifts to mail to the relatives, or a sweet-slightly-salty treat for you and your lover whenever you need a boost.