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Author Notes: This is a tasty treat to spice up your fiesta or light up a lucky recipients tired holiday palate. I often make this easy dessert when I have friends coming for dinner who love wine. I know that we will sit at the table well after the meal is over and continue talking and drinking for hours. I serve this on one plate and put it in the middle of the table. It is a casual dessert, so easy to make and great with a good cabernet. I first wrapped this up a few years ago while thinking of an edible present that would not be tossed aside amongst the mountains of Christmas sugar. With so many sweets out there this subtle spicy and salty chocolate makes a great gift. Use good chocolate when making this; it will make all of the difference. And of course feel free to substitute your favorite nuts and fruits. —wanderash
Food52 Review: Neither of us had ever made chocolate bark before we tried this recipe, and wanderash's version happens to be a great introduction. Waves of smooth dark chocolate are spiced with smoky ancho, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper, and studded with dried cherries, cashews and pistachios. The finished product looks lovely, packs easily and takes a total of about 20 minutes to put together. We think it makes a great holiday gift. - A&M —The Editors
Serves about 3 gifts
large ancho chili
whole star anise
teaspoon black peppercorns
cup cashews, very lightly crushed
ounces dark bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
cup dried cherries
Kosher salt, or sea salt
- To make the spice mix, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place first 5 ingredients on a baking sheet and place in oven. Toast until fragrant or about 10 min.
- Remove stems and majority of seeds from the anchos. Place all spices in a spice grinder or coffee grinder and pulverize. You may need to grind spices in batches.
- Toast the nuts by placing them on the baking sheet and put in the oven. Check after 10 minutes. When done, remove from oven and let cool.
- Place ¾ of the chocolate in a bowl and slowly melt the chocolate, either in the microwave checking and stirring it every 25 seconds or over a double broiler on the stovetop.
- When all of the chocolate is melted, take it off of the heat and add in the remaining chocolate, stir until it is completely melted.
- Add one to two teaspoons of the spice mix. Add one at a time and taste; add more if you want it to be spicier. I like a subtle spice flavor, it keeps those eating it wondering what the secret spice could be.
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Spread out the nuts and cherries, reserving a few of the nuts to decorate the top.
- Sprinkle salt over the nuts and cherries.
- Pour the chocolate onto the pan, covering the nuts and cherries in an even layer. Add remaining nuts to the top of chocolate and press them into the chocolate.
- Put in fridge and allow to cool for 45 min. Break into pieces and keep in a sealed container in the fridge.
- Your Best Edible Gift Contest Winner!