February 6, 2013

Bark up this tree for a treat to heart

The secret's in the toppings for this sweet, which takes almost no time to make but looks terrific.

By ALISON LADMAN/The Associated Press

Looking for an easy way to impress this Valentine's Day? Consider a simple -- but still sensational -- chocolate bark.

click image to enlarge

Four variations of Valentine’s Day chocolate bark. You can top the chocolate with whatever your love loves.

The Associated Press

As treats go, it doesn't get much easier than this. And the best part is that there are infinite ways to personalize the bark. You know, so that you can show that you really do listen to your significant other and care enough to cater to his or her tastes.

You start with a pound of chocolate. It can be white, milk or dark. Doesn't matter. Then you add your toppings, things like nuts, coconut, dried fruit, or more creative options such as pumpkin seeds and caramel popcorn. Whatever your topping choices, look for contrasts -- something crunchy, something tangy, something salty.

We've created several combinations that are rich in contrast and beautiful in appearance, but feel free to play with the toppings or to switch out the chocolate for milk or white. Of course, because it is the star of the show, be sure to use a good-quality chocolate.

Start to finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 12

1 pound dark, milk or white chocolate

Start by lining a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper. Have all your bark toppings ready before melting the chocolate.

If your chocolate is in bars or large, thick pieces, use a knife to carefully chop it up into small bits. Transfer the chocolate to a large glass measuring cup or bowl, then heat in the microwave on medium, stopping to stir every 20 to 30 seconds, until completely melted.

Pour the chocolate onto the prepared pan, then tap the pan on the counter to level the melted chocolate. Immediately sprinkle your choice of toppings over the surface of the chocolate. Allow to cool completely and set up, then break into pieces.

TOPPING SUGGESTIONS:

Large-flake coconut, toasted sliced almonds, cocoa nibs.

Chopped dried cherries, shelled pistachios, chopped chocolate wafer cookies, large flake sea salt.

Honey roasted peanuts, chopped extra-crispy cooked bacon, ground black pepper.

Crushed toffee pieces, toasted pumpkin seeds, chopped dried apricots.

Chopped candied ginger, chopped macadamia nuts, toasted coconut.

Broken salted pretzel sticks, cut up mini marshmallows, caramel popcorn.

Alison Ladman is a recipe developer for the AP. Follow her on Twitter at: CrustAndCrumbCo

 

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