Chocolate Bark for Autumn
By Cal Orey
By Cal Orey
As I sit here on a warm post-Turkey Day memories are in the cabin. After all, I inherited our glass and black wrought iron dining room table. Today I am time traveling back to the suburbs in the 20th century. I’ve got to give kudos to my mom. Early in the morning she’d get up and fix a 20 pound turkey, dressing, two kinds of potatoes, vegetables, appetizers, and a homemade pecan and pumpkin pie. She’d set a table (the one I have now) that looked like one of the super chefs would do on the Food Network channel. Just thinking about it all has wiped me out. Whew!
Yes, I did Thanksgiving but I took the easy, chill Mediterranean route. I put together semi-homemade cornbread dressing, a kale-spinach salad, chunky red herb taters, and store bought turkey (the pricey, organic kind). It was quick, easy, and had an Italian flair. The next day, with the turkey and dressing in the freezer I was happy. I don’t want to pack on the typical five pounds that Americans do this time of year. But ironically, I whipped up a batch of chocolate bark with a late fall spin to enjoy with hot tea—my best friend after a holiday. (I know, I didn’t knock myself out like my mother did. Oh well, a different generation—the ME one.)
Nature’s Crunchy Chocolate Bark
½ cup dark chocolate chips, premium brand
½ cup white chocolate chips, premium brand
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or almond extract
½ cup of pecans or almonds
½ cup of cranberries or raisins or dried apricots, chopped
Melt dark chocolate chips in a microwave for about 2-3 minutes. Place a paper towel over the bowl and keep an eye on it. Take the bowl out, stir, put back in until smooth. Do not overcook! Add the extract of your choice. Spread it on a nonstick flat cookie sheet (or line with parchment paper). Spread and shape into a rectangle. Chill in freezer for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, melt white chocolate chips in the microwave. Once the white chocolate is melted remove. Take out dark chocolate from the freezer and frost it with the white chocolate. Sprinkle nuts and dried fruit of your choice. Put back into freezer for about 15-20 minutes. Break into pieces (think rustic peanut brittle)—it doesn’t have to be perfect squares. Place pieces in plastic container. It stores nicely in fridge or freezer. Makes about 12-16 small pieces.
This quick and fun treat is a nice way to move on into the next holiday coming up. We have time so instead of Christmas cookies chocolate bark is a nice break. A piece or two with a cup of tea or coffee will provide energy, isn’t super fattening, and you’ll get a move on at work and play during our Indian-like summer that lingers on and we enjoy the late autumn days. Chocolate bark is ideal for an afternoon slump or after dinner. Yes, holiday cookies are next up.
— Cal Orey, M.A., is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, and Tea) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is www.calorey.com