I don’t know about you but this week has me feeling despondent. Is it “the age of foolishness…the winter of despair”? At every turn there seems to be a massacre, a miscarriage of justice, an environmental disaster, political miscreancy, the death of a musical icon, mass fear and hysteria. As the Brits would say – it’s doing my head in. On Instagram this week I vowed to vote for sunshine in the presence of so much rain, pain and gloom, but I’ve found it difficult. What is a girl to do? The only thing she can. Turn to chocolate.
It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of chocolate bark. I’m a huge fan of anything chocolate and ridiculously easy to make. The time from head (idea) to reality and back to head (through mouth) again is crucial. If it takes too long I lose interest and appetite. In the wake of all this depressing global news the therapy needs to be swift and I’ve created two versions of chocolate bark that are truly quick to make and delicious to devour. The biggest dilemma you have to overcome is : which one to make first?
Bark one is made using dark chocolate and flavoured with cardamom, fennel, cinnamon, chunks of crystallized ginger and freckled with cacao nibs. Dark, rich, spicy, crunchy. The spices are warming, the ginger sweet and jube-y, the cacao nibs give that delectable hint of espresso. As therapy this chocolate lets your cry, allows your bitterness, wraps you in a soft blanket and kisses the troubles away. It’s music by The Cure, it’s literature, it’s a cabin in the woods.
Bark two is made using white chocolate and flavoured with vanilla, passion-fruit powder, pieces of tropical fruit and topped with curls of roasted coconut. Sweet, creamy, exotic, luscious. The chewy fruits and coconut remind me of warm holidays and holiday cocktails, the sour passion-fruit powder and vanilla spice add complexity. As therapy this chocolate orders you to brush your hair, grabs you by the hand and takes you out dancing till morning. It’s your favourite 80’s movie, it’s the craic, it’s a drunken skinny dip in an ocean full phosphorescence.
Here’s how you make them:
2 x blocks of good dark chocolate
1 teaspoon cardamom and fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Handful crystallized ginger
Handful cacao nibs
2 x blocks good white chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 teaspoon passionfruit powder
Handful dried tropical fruits – e.g. starfruit, mango, pineapple, melon, coconut
Handful of coconut chips / curls – very gently toasted in oven
Step 1: Melt the chocolate by breaking into pieces and placing in a metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Ensure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
Step 2: Once the chocolate is melted add your spices, stir and remove from heat.
Step 3: Once chocolate has cooled a little add your “chew factor” (B1: ginger, B2: fruit pieces) and stir through
Step 4: Spread the chocolate mixture out onto a tray covered in baking paper.
Step 5: Sprinkle over your “crunch factor” (B1: cacao nibs, B2: roasted coconut chips / curls). For Bark 2 also sprinkle over passion-fruit powder.
Step 6: Chill the bark in the fridge. Once set cut or break into pieces.
Ensure your chocolate is good – at least 65% cocoa for your dark chocolate and your white chocolate must include cocoa butter. All quantities – teaspoon of this, handful of that – are just indications. Flavour to your personal taste. Roasting the coconut chips gives a better crunch and flavour but they burn quickly so keep a close eye on them. If you add the crystallized ginger when the chocolate is too hot the sugar coating will turn to syrup and change the consistency of the mixture – wait till the chocolate is just warm before adding anything sugar-coated.
I hope these two chocolate bark recipes brighten your spirits. I’m quite fond of them. Matt and the girls prefer Bark 2, while I am a fan of Bark 1. If you make both you have to let me know which is your favourite. And, more importantly, let’s name these guys! Bark 1 and Bark 2? How sad is that? What shall we call them? Are they family, friends or foes? Lovers?! Help give them names and characters and you’ll achieve Fork & Fiction fame forevermore.
With love and wishes for sunnier days,