Okay, I've succumbed to the Valentine's posts that have been floating around the blogosphere. I just can't resist, not because it's Valentine's Day, but because it's one of the days of the year that the whole family cooks together. It all started when my husband (then boyfriend) cooked dinner for me on our first Valentine's Day together. It's been a tradition since then to choose something different, difficult or fun to cook together. Last year, we included our daughter in the tradition when we made sushi together, and this year we decided to recreate a favorite meal at a Strasbourg restaurant when we lived there a couple of years ago. (More on the rest of the meal to come!)
Today, though, I'd like to focus on our very simple dessert--chocolate! I ran across a "recipe" from Jacques Torres in this month's Food & Wine and thought it would be perfect for the hectic Valentine's Day we were expecting. My daughter and I made the chocolate the day before, and it took all of about 30 minutes (10 of which were hands on). My daughter loved the idea of recreating chocolate, and we all loved eating it. I think this will be my go-to quick dessert when required to bring something sweet to a party, although I might play with the additions a little. (I've been dreaming of orange zest, pumpkin and sunflower seeds ever since we ate this last night!)
Dark Chocolate Bark with Roasted Almonds and Seeds
Recipe by Jacques Torres from Food & Wine
1 lb. dark chocolate, finely chopped (60-70% cacao)--I used 70%.
1 1/4 cups roasted whole almonds
3/4 cup shelled salted roasted pumpkin seeds and shelled sunflower seeds (combined)
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Add a little water to a pot and bring to a simmer. Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl that is big enough not to fall into the pot and place over the simmering water. (Make sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.) Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is about 2/3 melted. Remove the bowl from the pot and stir the chocolate until it is completely melted. (At this point, you're supposed to use a candy thermometer to get the chocolate to 90 degrees, but I don't have one, so I just stirred until completely melted and not too hot.) If the chocolate won't melt completely, return to the pot until it's melted. Make sure not to overheat it, though.
Stir the almonds and the seeds into the chocolate and pour the chocolate onto the parchment paper. Spread to about 1/2 inch making sure the nuts are completely covered in chocolate. Refrigerate for 10-20 minutes or until the chocolate has hardened. Invert the chocolate onto a work surface and break into pieces.
The chocolate can be stored in an airtight container or bag at cool room temperature for up to 10 days.