Nov 30, 2012

Chocolate Bark Recipes!

  Around the holidays we see a lot of peppermint bark, one of my (and many others’) favorite holiday treats. What most people don’t know is that peppermint bark isn’t the only type of bark that’s particularly tasty. If you’ve ever been to a chocolate store, you’ve seen the clear glass display cases full of fudge, bon-bons, truffles, bars, and last but not least, the barks. The best thing about working with chocolate is you can do pretty much anything and not mess it up. There are two primary steps in making chocolate bark: Step 1: melt chocolate; Step 2: sprinkle tasty things on top; Step 3: wait for the bark to harden.
  I promise it looks a lot more intimidating then it actually is. It is actually an incredibly versatile method, meaning you can put anything from butterscotch to bacon in it and it will still taste pretty darn good. The only thing to worry about  is proportions; for instance the sweet to salty ratio, savory to sweet, light to rich; all of those factors can make or break your bark. Best part? When you're making bark as a gift, you can still eat all the good parts and edges and they will never know due to the asymmetrical way bark is cut. It's like taking the best slice of pizza without anyone seeing, except it's chocolate, therefore even better.

  I made four barks: salted caramel and potato chip bark, MnM and pretzel bark, pecan pie bark, and the traditional peppermint bark. Before I say anything, let me just say that the unanimous winner (chosen by those near and dear to me) was the pecan pie bark, which I made as a side note not intended as one of the main flavors but more of an experiment. When I was cutting the bark, I tried a little piece and almost laughed it was so good, considering I wasn’t going to make it at all. Point being: never be afraid to try something unique, different, or just straight-up weird because you never know what may come out of it.

The “Bark” Method
-The Salted Caramel Potato Chip Bark was one that most of the samplers were hesitant to try, but turned out to be the favorite of the “main” barks (there was only a tiny bit of the pecan pie to sample).  The reason it works is short and sweet: texture. By using kettle-cooked potato chips, they stayed hard and crisp through the process and kept the flavor. The caramel and sea salt just keeps it from getting too salty, while still tasting each individual flavor.


1 cup milk chocolate chips

1 cup dark chocolate chips

2 cups WHOLE (not crushed) potato chips

8 soft caramels

¼ teaspoon Sea salt


1.       Roll out a piece of parchment paper (or tin foil) about 1 ¾ feet. Place the sheet on a flat surface, such as a cookie baking sheet (I find the ones with ridges work the best). If the ends try to curl up, place a butter knife or a fork on each side to hold them down.

2.       Melt together the milk and dark chocolate chips in the microwave at 20-second intervals, mixing between each one until the chocolate is around 90% melted. Take out the bowl and stir until it is completely melted.

3.       Pour all but about ¼ of a cup of the chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread it out with a rubber spatula until it is about 1/8 inch thick and forms a rectangular shape with a relatively even surface.

4.       Take the (whole) potato chips and drop them onto the chocolate. Use as little or as many as you want, but I would suggest covering at least 50% of the surface area with chips. It’s okay if they stick up or out, the best barks are never perfect or symmetrical.

5.         Put the caramels in a microwave-safe bowl for about 30 seconds (or until they start to bubble) and use a fork to drizzle the caramel over the chips and chocolate. If it starts to harden, remove the fork and put it back in the microwave for 30 more seconds.

6.       Drizzle with the remaining chocolate and sprinkle the sea salt over the top. Put in freezer to harden.

-The Pretzel and MnM Bark follows the exact same directions as above, but instead of caramel, sea salt, and potato chips, it uses (believe it or not) pretzels and MnM’s! After step 3 above, sprinkle the pretzels and mnms ( about ½ cup mnm’s and 1 cup pretzels) on top and garnish with sea salt if you’s like. Drizzle with remaining chocolate.

-The Peppermint Bark uses all dark chocolate (2 cups) and also white chocolate (2 cups). ASfter melting and spreading the dark, let it harden in the freezer. Once firm, pour melted white chocolate over the top and spread gently (as to not re-melt the dark chocolate as well) until it is one even layer, and top with crushed peppermint (8 candy canes, crushed).

-As for the Pecan Pie Bark, if you ever, for some unfathomable reason, have any left-over pecan pie you can use it here. This bark was melted chocolate (2 cups milk chocolate chips), topped with pecan pie filling (no measurement, just try to cover a good amount of surface area and give it all you’ve got), then topped with some of the pie crust crumbles (edges work best) and a dash of sea salt,  melted dark chocolate (I cup chips) and a tiny bit more pie crust crumbles.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below!




http://www.chocolate-isgoodforyou.blogspot.competzel bark http://www.chocolate-isgoodforyou.blogspot.compeppermint bark http://www.chocolate-isgoodforyou.blogspot.compecan pie bark http://www.chocolate-isgoodforyou.blogspot.compotato chip bark

Nov 24, 2012

Pecan Pie for Big Boys

  Anyone can eat pecan pie that's mostly a gooey buttery filling and a couple pecans here and there, but it takes a real man at heart to have what I would call a true pecan pie, about 85% pecans. That is, if you think you can do it. In my personal opinion, the gooey (but amazing, don't get me wrong) filling acts as training wheels and I think it's time to take off the training wheels, sport. If you really feel like putting on your big boy pants, add a couple tablespoons of whiskey or bourbon to the egg/butter mixture. 
  This recipe has been in my family for a while and I got it from my grandma to make for thanksgiving. When I made it, I felt like it needed a couple more pecans (or the rest of the bag if we're being specific here). I ended up doubling the pecans and adding a little molasses but it is pretty much Grandma's pecan pie. And yes, we cheat and use store-bought pie crust; I promise it'll be okay.
Pecan Pie for Big Boys
1 frozen 9-inch deep dish pie crust
3 eggs 
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 and ½ teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups pecan halves, toasted *
2 cups crushed pecans, toasted
*You can toast them in a toaster oven or a regular oven (I prefer a toaster oven if you have one). It should take around 5 minutes, or until they turn a darker brown and you can smell them in the kitchen. Let them cool before mixing them in!!

1.      Preheat oven to 350F.  Beat the eggs well, until combined but not frothy; I’d suggest doing this by hand so they’re not over-beaten.
2.     Combine the eggs, corn syrup, molasses, sugar, (not too hot) butter and vanilla in a large bowl. Once combined, add the salt and stir in the pecans. Be sure that every nut is coated with the mixture.
3.     Pour into the frozen pie crust and adjust the pecans so there are no big gaps or lumps. Place the pie on a cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 1 hour, covering it loosely with aluminum foil about 30 minutes through. It is done when the middle is almost set (it doesn’t slosh around when gently wiggled).
4.     Cool the pie, loosely covered, for at least 20 minutes and serve with vanilla ice cream (I’m supposed to say that part is optional but I do not wholeheartedly support that statement).

Nov 16, 2012

Brownie for One

It's not the most photographic dish,
 but it gets the job done.
The mug brownie, or "Emergency Brownie" as I like to call it, is one of those survival methods we all should know, right up there with stop drop and roll and the basics of stranger danger. Perfectly invented for those nights where you just NEED something sweet, these are for one person, made in the microwave, and are prepared with ingredients that most people have lying around. I'll make it short and sweet (pun definitely intended) because I know how aggressive these craving can make a person. Just know that this recipe can be manipulated (milk vs. cream, or sour cream instead of mayo) and chocolate chips are always welcome.

Mix together-

1 1/2 tbsp cream

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise (just trust me)

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tsp flour

pinch of salt (about 1/8 tsp)

     -in a Microwavable mug until combined. Nuke on high for 1-2 minutes, depending on how you like it. Closer to one minute will give you a fuggier brownie (my personal favorite), and close to two minutes will give you a chewier brownie with an edge on the sides. PLEASE let it cool for about 5 minutes (just put it in the freezer) because it will burn your taste buds mercilessly, which means all that hard work for nothing.



Nov 13, 2012

Pumpkin Maple Cake Balls

    Initially made for Halloween, these cake balls, or “pops” if we’re being specific, are incredibly fun to make because it involves mashing cake and frosting with your hands which is not only exhilarating, but also calls for licking the leftovers off your fingers. These are not the cheater cake pops that use manufactured cake pop pans or makers, these are the real deal. I used lollipop sticks and dipped them in chocolate to decorate. I threw a failed attempt at decorating the pops to make them irresistibly cute, but the plan actually backfired mercilessly, so I'd suggest solid colors for those of you lacking in artistic skill like me. I used the maple cream cheese frosting from my previous post in this recipe, and I think it's safe to say that this one's a keeper!

Maple Pumpkin Cake Balls
1. Take the warm (but not hot) cake- cool for at least 20 minutes- and crumble the cake into a large bowl.
2. Top with HALF of the frosting recipe and mash together with your hands (the fun part). Once it is consistent, pick off small clumps and roll them into 1 inch balls.
3. From there, you can poke lollipop sticks in them (cake pops), dip them in chocolate, or see how fast you can eat them;). Freeze them before dipping for a good coating, and try not to eat too many! 
Maple Pumpkin Cake
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup PURE maple syrup
2 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup hot water
½ tsp salt
¾ cup pumpkin puree
1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 13X9 pan.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, vanilla, and mix in maple syrup.
3. In another bowl, sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and spices) and add half of it to the butter mixture. Mix in half of the hot water and continue stirring. Beat in the pumpkin mixture, followed by the remaining halves of both the dry ingredients and the water. Mix just until the batter is consistent and pour into prepared pan.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
2 eight-ounce packages cream cheese
½ cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup PURE maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons allspice (optional)
1. Cream butter and cream cheese.
2. Beat in maple syrup, followed by both extracts until combined, then gradually beat in the powdered sugar. If desired, add allspice and beat in.