Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa herself, taught me the difference between bark made with Saltine crackers and the pretty French version. As tasty as the Saltine bark is (and it is quite tasty), it’s not gluten free, which means it’s out for me. And truth be told, it isn’t nearly as beautiful to look at which means it can’t double as a hostess gift like this effortlessly fancy variety.
And easy!! My version is as simple as melting chocolate chips in the microwave and cutting up some dried fruit and nuts. Totally doable, right?! And now you have something beautiful with which to gift your wonderful friends and the virtual strangers your husband knows through work that you may or may not be forced to have dinner with… lucky you!
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I use Guittard chocolate chips because they are very smooth and taste the best)
⅓ cup unsweetened, dried cherries, cut into quarters
⅓ cup golden raisins
⅓ cup salted cashews (whole or chopped, your choice)
Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use a pencil to lightly trace a (roughly) 7 x 10 inch rectangle onto the parchment. This will be your guide when spreading out the chocolate. It you make it a little bigger or smaller, it’s no big deal.
Put the chocolate into a microwave safe bowl and melt on high. Melt the chocolate in 30-second increments, stirring after each 30 seconds. When the chocolate is melty, stir vigorously until completely smooth.
Using an offset spatula, or a rubber spatula if you don’t have on offset one, smooth the melted chocolate onto the rectangle you drew on the parchment. It should be about ¼ inch thick. If it seems too thick, make your rectangle a little bigger. Sprinkle your chopped fruit and nuts over the chocolate and gently tap on them to make sure they are set into the chocolate. Set aside and let cool. Once cooled, cut or break into pieces and serve at room temperature.
Notes: The best part about this recipe is how malleable it is. Don’t like dried cherries? Use apricots! Don’t like dried fruit at all? Use marshmallows or chunks of fresh coconut or dried coconut or pecans or crumbled up cookies! A little salty and a little sweet is good rule to follow, but if you’re making it, you get to make the rules.
Adapted from Ina Garten’s French Chocolate Bark