No-Fail Holiday Dessert: Nutty Chocolate Bark with Cardamom
Here is a chocolate dessert that will wow your friends and family with its colorful, elegant appearance and unexpected taste.
And the good thing is, making it from scratch won’t cause you any stress at all, because there’s no way to mess it up!
The most important thing when making a chocolate dessert is starting with really good chocolate, so choose the highest quality chocolate chips or bars that you can. That will really make the difference in making this dessert unforgettable.
Now that we’ve got the chocolate issue out of the way, let’s talk about how easy it is to make chocolate bark. Essentially, all you do is melt the chocolate, then spread it out on parchment paper and top it with nuts, dried fruit, seeds, and whatever else you like.
This recipe calls for seasoning the chocolate with ground cardamom, or what I like to call “the cinnamon of the Middle East.” Then, you top it with fruits and nuts that give it a Persian twist like pistachios, almonds, dried cherries, and mulberries (chopped, dried apricots are a good substitute).
I also added goji berries, which you can find at health food stores, for color. You can put your own spin on the recipe by using the same proportions and subbing in whatever nuts, seeds, or dried fruits that you like (although I guarantee this combination is delicious!). I’ve even seen people make chocolate bark with fresh pomegranate seeds!
Here are some other fun ideas for toppings: coarsely chopped coffee beans (delicious, but packs a caffeine wallop!); dried coconut, banana, mango, or strawberries; and toasted chili pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or sesame seeds. You could also add tasty seasonings to the chocolate like cinnamon, chili powder, lavender, and vanilla.
Once the bark is made, let it harden in the refrigerator, and when it’s set, break or cut it into pieces for serving. I’ve found that the texture of the bark is best when it’s cold, so store the cut pieces in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
The bark makes an easy and festive holiday gift, too, so just remember to tell the recipient to keep it chilled.
Nutty Chocolate Bark with Cardamom
Makes about 20 pieces
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, or 1 (16-ounce) semisweet chocolate bar, broken into pieces
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 cup dried mulberries
1/4 cup dried tart cherries
3/4 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. goji berries
Pinch of coarse salt, such as fleur de sel, Maldon salt, or kosher salt
*Note: Coarsely chopped coffee beans; dried fruit like coconut, banana, mango, or strawberries; and toasted pumpkin, sunflower, or sesame seeds work for great toppings. Spice substitutions can also include cinnamon, chili powder, lavender, and vanilla.
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Melt the chocolate. Add the cardamom and stir to dissolve.
3. Turn off the heat and stir in half of the mulberries, cherries, almonds, and pistachios.
3. Pour the chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet. With an offset spatula or rubber spatula, spread the chocolate in a wide rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.
4. Sprinkle with the remaining nuts and dried fruit, including the goji berries, and press them gently into the chocolate. Dust with the salt.
5. Cool in the refrigerator for about 2 hours or until hard. When firm, slide the chocolate onto a cutting board and cut or break it into pieces. The chocolate gets soft quickly in warm weather, so keep it refrigerated until just before serving.
[Recipe adapted with permission from “The New Persian Kitchen” by Louisa Shafia, copyright © 2013, Ten Speed Press]