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Bittersweet Bark with Toasted Almonds and Dried Cherries

The other day my cousin Claire called me from the grocery store with an urgent shopping question – what was “white chocolate bark” and where could she find it? I thought immediately of my favorite Christmas treat but since it was listed as an ingredient for crockpot chocolate peanuts, I figured that was an incorrect assessment. I consulted Google, which I do nearly five times a day.

Bark is apparently the name for those chocolate melting wafers you use when making chocolate dipped strawberries. So – now you know. That’s not what this is, though. This is the easiest, albeit fanciest holiday dessert. If you keep track of these sorts of things, it’s also dairy free, gluten free, and “clean”.

I don’t know about you but I’m not very good at stopping eating when I’m “80% full” or whatever Dr. Oz said. With these once a year meals like roasted pork or spicy seafood pasta I eat till I’m hurting a little bit. This is actually the dessert I’d prefer for these events. Its just a bit of sweetness vs. a filling, heavy piece of cheesecake or the like. The touch of salt along with the roasted nuts and the slightly sour cherries are just perfection. I brought this to a Christmas party, tied up with festive baker’s twine, and I purposely brought a baggie of leftovers for my husband to eat on the drive over. A gluten free sweet that would “take the edge off” so that he could be nice to people at the party prior to his trip to the buffet. He’s the hangriest of them all.

Bittersweet Bark with Toasted Almonds and Dried Cherries

Makes 2 lbs

2 c. sliced almonds

2 (10 oz) bags Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips

1 c. dried cherries

Pinch sea salt

1. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper, waxed paper or aluminum foil.

2. To toast nuts, place about 1 c. of the nuts into a dry skillet over medium low heat. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and fragrant. Repeat with remaining nuts.  Let cool once toasted.

3. Place chocolate in a glass mixing bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Stir well and repeat. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring well each time, until smoothly melted.

4. Reserve 1/4 c. dried cherries and 1/2 c. almonds in a small bowl, and mix the remaining cherries and almonds into the chocolate until well coated.

5. Pour mixture onto lined cookie sheet and, using a spatula, smooth and flatten chocolate until it’s covering the parchment/liner.

6. Top with reserved nuts and cherries, as well as a sprinkle of salt.

7. Let chocolate harden in fridge or at room temperature until set.

8. Break up into pieces. Store at room temperature – best served within several days of making.