Wait! Just kidding.
Here’s what I really meant:
Just look at this! Don’t you want a piece right now? This particular bark is made with a 16-ounce bag of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips, and a third of a cup each of dried sweetened cranberries, chopped walnuts, and medium diced apricots. It took 15 minutes to make–honest. I didn’t need to use a stove. There was only one bowl to wash.
This is something you MUST keep in mind, for those times when:
- You need to bring some sort of desert to a holiday meeting or your book club, but you have no time to bake.
- You are invited to someone’s house for a dinner, or a holiday open house, or cocktails, and you just want to bring something a little more special than a bottle of wine.
- A friend or neighbor did you a nice little favor that made your life easier.
- Someone you work with is having a birthday, but baking a cake seems a little over the top.
- Someone you love has had a hard day, and deserves pampering. Maybe that someone is YOU.
You get the idea. The recipe for bark is SO SIMPLE, it doesn’t even need to be written down. You’ll remember it. Here it is:
Choose some nuts you like, and roughly chop them. I like pecans, walnuts, or pistachios. Toast the nuts you plan to use ahead of time, and then let them cool. Probably you’ll need about 3-5 minutes, on a sheet pan or a piece of aluminum foil, in a 350-degree oven (or toaster oven) . You’ll be able to smell the nutty aroma when they’re done. Take them out of the oven and empty them into a bowl. They could burn if you leave them on the hot sheet pan.
Melt some chocolate in some way. I put mine in a four-cup Pyrex measuring cup, and microwaved it on high, stirring it with a tablespoon every 30 seconds, just until it was smooth and creamy–fully melted with no chunks…and not a bit beyond that point. I think it took two minutes, or four stirring sessions. But it might have been three. You could also use a double boiler. And of course, you can use any kind of chocolate you like–but it should be the very best quality chocolate you can get–because the chocolate is everything in this recipe. I like the darkest chocolate I can find. Ina Garten likes white chocolate, because her favorite flavor is vanilla. (I’ll share her recipe at the end of this post.)
Find a sheet pan, and place a sheet of parchment paper on it. The size sheet pan you will need should be based on the amount of chocolate you’re using. I used an 18-by 12 pan, and it was bigger than I needed.
Pour the melted chocolate in the middle of your sheet pan, and spread it out until it’s about a quarter-inch thick. Ina is more precise than I am; she wants you to draw a rectangle in pencil on your parchment paper, then flip it over, and spread the chocolate out to fill the space. But in my view, it doesn’t matter if the chocolate is irregular–and you don’t need to be that precise about the thickness, either.
Now sprinkle the nuts and fruits evenly across the surface of the melted chocolate, and gently press them in deeper with your fingers. It’s OK if they stick up. You don’t want to submerge them; they just need to be solidly anchored in the chocolate.
Place the sheet pan in the fridge for about 15 or 20 minutes, until it’s firm. Then slice into squares, or break into irregular pieces. You can store the bark in a sealed plastic bag or an airtight plastic container, but probably it won’t last long enough for you to have to worry about storage. It should be served at room temperature.
That’s it! It took me twice as long to write all of this down as it did to make the bark! Have fun.
Oh, and here’s Ina’s five-star recipe for White Chocolate Bark. That’s delicious, too.
FUN FACT: It’s diet food! The first edition of The South Beach Diet (which I remember failing miserably at) includes a dessert called “Pistachio Bark” which is nothing more than a bunch of pistachios stirred into melted dark chocolate, and then spread out to chill, as I have described above. It has 150 calories and 3 grams of protein per serving.