Alright, so this recipe has nothing to do whatsoever with whole grains (the entire focus of my food blog), but you need a bit of chocolate every now and then (or every day, which I average). And that's no problem! As long as you control your portion size and eat dark chocolate, it's good for you (say the health studies). It's got anti-oxidants, gives you a natural lift, and I think it might even release endorphins, which makes you happy. I just eat it for the taste. This recipe also includes dried fruit, cashews, and crystallized ginger, all of which do very nice things for you. And furthermore, this makes a beautiful gift. Put it in some parchment paper in a holiday tin, and there you go. A word about the ginger though: I love ginger in a lot of things, but I thought it was a bit much in this recipe. It didn't blend with the other flavors, it just tried to claim all the fame. So the first time you make this, you may want to put ginger only on half and see how you like it. The recipe is from Ina Garten's "Back to Basics" cookbook and, as she says, only use really good chocolate.
This lovely bark was a gift to my friends Courtney and Becky. I presented it to Courtney when we went to D.C. to eat sushi and see Over the Rhine. They were phenomenal, and I also discovered a new pair: Vienna Teng and Alex Wong, a husband and wife team that has amazing folksy layered music and lots of unique instruments. But anyways, on to the bark.
French Chocolate Bark
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews
7 ounces really good bittersweet chocolate (I used 70% cocao)
7 ounces really good semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped if they're big
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped (optional)
1) Heat the oven to 350 degrees. While it's warming up, roll out a piece of parchment paper and, with a pencil and a ruler, draw a 10 x 10 inch square on it.
2) Chop the apricots, ginger (optional), and (if they're really big) cherries into smaller pieces.
3) Spread the cashews on an ungreased baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes. Let cool.
4) Chop chocolate into small pieces. Place semi-sweet and half of bittersweet chocolate into a glass bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir vigorously. Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is mostly melted. Add the rest of the bittersweet chocolate and stir until smooth.
5) Spread the chocolate to the edges of your parchment paper square. Sprinkle the dried fruit and cashews on top. Let cool for about 2 hours, then cut into 16 triangles. You can get two gifts out of this recipe.
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