Another 2012 milestone reached: the From Scratch Club cook-along virtual book club has come to the final chapter of Alana Chernila's The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making. And, as with so many other cookbooks, Alana saved the best for last: candy and sweet treats.
Now, I have to admit, ever since we started the book I've had my heart set on making the Twinkie recipe that is part of this chapter, way before the no-more-Twinkie shit hit the fan last month. I even added the Twinkie mold to my Amazon wish list.
Then -- ho, ho, freakin' ho -- the holidays closed in and there just wasn't quite enough time for Twinkies. (Don't fret: they'll make an appearance in 2013, although likely not until after Detox January.)
Never fear: Alana has a recipe for chocolate bark (what she calls "Easiest Chocolates") that was exactly as described (wicked easy) and definitely appropriate for the holidays.
If you can wield a knife and boil water, you can make this bark lickety-split.
I love that the flavor combinations are seemingly endless. I went with dark chocolate, dried apricots, crystallized ginger and pistachios, because that's what I like. But if you wanted to make the bark with white chocolate and peppermint, it would still work. Milk chocolate, peanuts and raisins more to your taste? Just follow the same directions.
As Alana noted in the book, if you don't have a double boiler (I don't), just set a heat-safe bowl snugly over a pot of simmering water and you're all set. You just need to be able to melt the chocolate down to a smooth consistency.
If you're looking for an easy, hard-to-mess-up handmade treat (I see teacher gift written all over this!), may I suggest some bark?
What's your favorite candy bark combination? The Ninj wants to know.
Fruit and Nut Chocolate Bark (adapted from The Homemade Pantry)
1 1/4 pounds dark chocolate (I used 5 4-oz. Ghiradelli baking bars)
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
1 heaping cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt for sprinkling
Bring about an inch of water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler. Break the chocolate into pieces and put into the top of the double boiler, stirring to melt. Once the chocolate is smooth, remove it from the heat, fold in the fruit and nuts and pour the mixture into a greased 9-inch-square baking pan. Sprinkle the entire surface with kosher salt. Cover (not tightly) with plastic wrap and pop into the refrigerator for 5 hours (I left mine overnight).
Turn the bark out onto a cutting board and chop into however many pieces you like: lots of small ones or a few big ones.