My stomach growled through two layers of jackets, as my eyes slowly moved to my bus seat companion today, which happened to be a box of rubber food models. It is pretty desperate hunger when rubber peas and fake pepperoni pizza make me hungry. I was excitedly re-routing said box from an office downtown to my office. You know you are a nutritionist when rubber replicas of chicken breast, applesauce and steak get your heart skipping a beat.
One of the things I do at work is administer 24 hour recalls. I ask our study participants to tell me everything they ate and drank within the last 24 hours and then I analyze it in a database...and having a food model is so helpful for determining portion sizes. So what a thrill it will be to tote these models into my meetings now.
Anyway, down to the business of chocolate. While my stomach growled, I longed for a piece of this chocolate bark. I went over to T's house for dinner on Tuesday night where I was in charge of dessert. This got me a little nervous because my comfort zone resides in side dishes and tapas style cooking. I was in the spirit of stepping out of comfort zones though, after attending the BlogHerFood conference from last weekend, which by the way was such a helpful experience. And one of the bonuses was an armload of free Scharffen Berger chocolate bars.
These bars were a perfect platform for recipe hunting. I dragged cookbooks and binders off the bookshelf to find a quick chocolate-like dessert to assemble over at her house. Thanks to a previously torn out page from Cooking Light, this recipe came to life.
The great benefit is that you are essentially creating your own chocolate bar. You get the opportunity to stuff the chocolate with little bits of whatever you like. I divided the macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and figs into different sections for variety. So then each bite will be a little different. The hardest part is waiting for it to work it's magic in the freezer.
Fig and Nut Chocolate Bark
Adapted from Cooking Light September 2009 Issue
Yields about 12 oz
The original recipe includes dried cranberries and crystallized ginger. So try that if you wish. After I made this batch, the idea of coconut came to mind. Also, I used one 3 oz bittersweet bar and one extra dark 82% cacao bar, so it much less sweet. But use chocolate to your sugar level preference.
1/4 cup pre-chopped hazelnuts
4 dried figs, chopped
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, broken in big chunks
Sea salt (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour the hazelnuts onto a baking sheet and toast in oven until they become fragrant, about 5-8 minutes. Check on them every few minutes so they don't burn.
Line a baking sheet or pan with parchment paper. Arrange your nuts and fruit on the parchment in whatever way you'd like them to be interspersed throughout the bark. In a microwave save bowl or glass measuring cup, heat the chocolate pieces. Microwave for 1 minute on high, or until it is transformed to liquid. Stir well.
Pour the chocolate evenly over the nuts and fruit until all ingredients are covered. Sprinkle the sea salt over the top if you like a salty sweet dessert. Place the pan in the freezer for an hour. (Make yourself really busy, because these 60 minutes may click by painfully slow).
When done, break the bark into pieces and serve as a dessert with a nice glass of wine. Or have as a snack with a Granny Smith apple, like I did at work yesterday.