Last week I had some friend over for “Fondue” and to play “Cards Against Humanity”. So we drank wine, ate fondue and had a lovely evening. I had served dried figs and dried apricots to dip in the fondue. (along with a lot of other stuff) One container of apricots had been in brandy for about a year. I siphoned off the apricot brandy to try late. My sweet husband drank it before I had a chance to try it. He liked it.
But I had left over dried fruit and chocolate in my baking drawer, so I decided to make some very simple Chocolate Bark using what was left over.
- 1/2 cup finely diced dried figs
- 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp. each ground allspice, coriander, cardamom, ginger, and aniseed
- 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 3 lb. dark chocolate in block or bar form (I had some milk chocolate, so added that into about 8 oz of 70% cocoa)
- 1 cup toasted slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup finely diced candied orange peel ( I used the left over dried apricots and some of the brandied apricots.)
- Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment, and tape the parchment to the baking sheets. Put a piece of parchment on the counter, too. Have ready an instant-read thermometer.
- In a small bowl, toss the figs with the spices. Transfer to a fine-mesh strainer and sift out the excess spices; reserve for another use.
Melt and temper the chocolate
- Finely chop 2 lb. of the chocolate and put it in a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over a 4-quart saucepan. Cut the other 1 lb. of chocolate into two pieces.
- Fill the saucepan with about 2 inches of water (it should not touch the bowl). Bring the water to a boil, remove the pot from the heat, and put the bowl of chocolate over it. Gently stir the chocolate occasionally with a silicone spatula until it is fully melted and reaches between 115°F and 120°F on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the pot, wipe the bottom dry, and add one of the 1/2 lb. blocks of chocolate to the bowl. Constantly fold the solid chocolate with the melted chocolate; the solid chocolate will melt somewhat but not fully. Take the temperature of the chocolate now and then. When it drops to 95°F, after 4 to 5 minutes, take what’s left of the solid chocolate out of the bowl. Add the second block of chocolate and fold constantly. When the temperature drops to 90°F, take the block out. (The chocolate blocks can be reused for other recipes.) Gently stir the melted chocolate for 1 minute more.
Spread the chocolate, top, and cool
- Divide the melted chocolate between the prepared baking sheets, and working quickly, spread it to about 1/4 inch thick with an offset spatula. Immediately sprinkle the figs, almonds, and orange peel over both sheets of warm chocolate, pressing down lightly.
- Place in a cool (60°F to 65°F) room or refrigerate it for just 5 minutes to set. For best results, let the bark sit for 12 hours before breaking it into shards.
If your chocolate does not come in large blocks, use the biggest pieces you can, such as two 4-oz. bars in place of the 1/2-lb. chunk. The large size makes it easy to retrieve the unmelted chocolate once the melted chocolate is in temper.
And here is the Brandied Apricot Recipe just in case…
- 500g soft dried apricots
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 5–6 star anise flowers
- 4 whole cloves
- 3 cups (750ml) brandy
- Layer the fruit and spices in sterilised jars and cover with brandy.
- Screw on the sterilised lids and leave to stand in a cool dark place for at least one month before serving.
*Will last up to six months once opened.
- Try preserving the apricots in gin, vodka or a fortified wine, such as white muscadel.
- Un-sulphured, dried, organic apricots give the best results, although they might be darker in colour than sulphured ones.
- Serve with cheese, in baked puddings or chopped up and stirred into thick cream, mascarpone or ice cream.
- Drain some apricots and dip them in melted dark chocolate for an after-dinner treat with coffee. You can even serve small nips of the leftover spiced brandy as a digestive after a meal.
This recipe makes ± 2 cups (500ml)