When contemplating yesterday’s post about GF Chocolate Chip Cookies, and in an effort to boost my confidence (what can a self-taught cook from Maine contribute to the “best chocolate chip cookie” debate?) I estimated the number I’ve made since 1967 – the year I probably started independently plugging in the Kitchen Aid. I’m gonna say… hmmm (don’t want to exaggerate): tens of thousands. Marco, the hero of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss is looking over my shoulder. But honestly, I’ve made a LOT of chocolate chip cookies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street .
I prefer Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips. When I called Customer Service to confirm they’re gluten free I was told yes, but that during packaging the chips travel on a belt that may have carried another of their products that might contain gluten. Just visited their site to make certain this is still the case and found tips on how to taste chocolate: http://www.ghirardelli.com/recipes-tips/chocopedia/chocolate-tasting. The Bittersweet Chips are slightly larger, so the GF dough has to cover a greater surface area. I’m not a physicist, but experience dictates this makes a slight difference. I also like their Milk Chocolate Chips. We’ve never had a problem with either.
America’s Test Kitchen has gotten stingy about sharing information on-line if one isn’t a subscriber, but check out this article about chocolate chips: http://www.americastestkitchen.com/taste-tests/detail.php?docid=19459&incode=M**ASCA00 . Their taste testers ranked them based on flavor, consistency, melting qualities…. Toll House Semi-Sweet didn’t fare well, but their Dark Chocolate Morsels, which may not have been available at the time of the (study), are pretty good, and a nice alternative to the relative fruitiness of Ghirardelli Bittersweet.
Read about Parisian restauranteur and chocolatier Alain Ducasse who is making the chocolate from which he makes the chocolates: http://www.alain-ducasse.com/en
And the American brothers whose chocolate enterprise he likes: http://mastbrothers.com/ .
And check out Desserted – Recipes and Tales from and Island Chocolatier, by Kate Shaffer, ISBN978-0-89272-991-3.
There was going to be no recipe today, but all this (talk) about chocolate created a craving. Remarkably I’m not in the mood for a cookie, even a GF one. Eating a mostly gluten free diet has informed body, and so mind, about the comfort and ease that is a biproduct of avoiding eating carbs from baked goods. While there is sometimes nothing better than a warm chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven, usually a small piece of good chocolate will satisfy the desire for something rich and sweet. I left you before this last paragraph to gather the dried fruit, nuts, and… chocolate to make Chocolate Bark. It’s going to have to cool at room temperature for 2-3 hours before I cut it. But then it’ll be after noon, so I will have given myself permission to indulge! (And there was that little bit of melted chocolate left in the double boiler before washing – someone had to make sure it was good!) Next time I’ll experiment with my wood graining tool to make the chocolate look more like real bark. It’s a little “crafty”, but fun!
P.S. I thought about reserving enough chocolate to experiment with the antique mold I keep in the fruit bowl on the counter. I didn’t, but if you’re so inclined: http://www.chocomolds.com/chocolate/solidmolding.php .
6-7 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70-80%), chopped. Chips will do, but if you use the best quality chocolate you can find it’s usually less expensive if you purchase it in blocks.
6-7 oz. semi-sweet or milk chocolate, chopped.
1/2 cup roasted pistachio nuts (I had these left from the Pistache Macarons, but you can substitute cashews, pine nuts, or chopped almonds.)
1/3 cup dried cranberries (or chopped cherries)
1/3 cup dried apricots (chopped fine; bright orange are prettier than the Blenheim I used today.)
1/3 cup golden raisins (golden raisins are nicer looking on the chocolate than Thompson Raisins.)
Optional: a very little bit of sea salt – sprinkle it on 25 – 50% of your bark before layering the fruit and nuts if you like a hint of saltiness.
Note: make this really healthy by using Goji Berries, dried blueberries, Chia seeds or toasted golden flax seeds, and walnuts!
1. Put the bittersweet chocolate and about half the semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler over (not in) boiling water. Stir occasionally as it begins to melt.
2. When the chocolate has completely melted, remove from the heat, add the rest of the chocolate and stir until it’s completely melted and cool enough to the touch, but still pourable.
3. Pour onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment and spread to a 9 x 12 inch “rectangle”. (I used the marble inset into the counter top since I didn’t have plans to move the bark.)
4. Sprinkle the top evenly with one of the fruits, the nuts, and follow with the rest of the fruit.
5. Cool for 2-3-4 hours or until firm enough to cut discreetly. Serve at room temperature. This also makes a great gift, easily packed into small white paper confectioners’ boxes or cellophane bags tied with ribbon.