Now that Halloween is over, all I can think about is the holidays; all the fun, all the family time, all the delicious food!  Every year around this time, I try to come up with a festive homemade treat that I can serve to my family and friends over the holidays but also gift to those special people in my life as a token of gratitude and love. This year, I got a bit of a head start. I was inspired (and slightly terrified) by all the news that shipping on almost everything would be delayed this holiday season so I ran to the kitchen and got cooking. I truly believe that the fire that was lit under me resulted in my most fabulous, festive holiday treat ever.

My homemade chocolate bark just screams holidays! It’s perfect for the lover of savory or sweet, it’s decadent without being too indulgent and would look incredible packaged up and tied with a big beautiful bow as a gift. How perfect would this be to bring to the host or hostess of all your holiday festivities this season?? When I first concocted this recipe, I made a huge batch in order to have plenty to give to all of my favorite taste-testers, but to be honest with you, it was so good, I thought about hiding it somewhere for myself!

The combination of salty and sweet is always a homerun for me so this recipe truly hits the spot. I was also thinking as I was baking that you can really alter this recipe to best suit your audience. For example, my kids really like semi-sweet chocolate so I used that here but if I was making a batch for my friends that love dark chocolate, I would use that instead.

My chocolate bark has lightly melted chocolate, includes loads of dried fruit (your choice of course) and in my opinion has the perfect amount of crunch, thanks to the nuts and the pretzels. Unlike your traditional over the counter chocolate bar, this bark provides some protein thanks to the nuts, fiber thanks to the dried fruit, and even antioxidants. A truly special, guilt free, sweet treat.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect dessert for a special gathering, a healthier option for a little salty, sweet craving or a fabulous, festive homemade gift for the special people in your life, I hope you’ll make my Chocolate Bark this holiday season. In my opinion, nothing truly says, “I’m thankful for you” or “you’re special” to me more than a homemade gift that comes straight from heart of your home–your kitchen. Happy everything! xx Janine

Janine’s Chocolate Bark: Festive and Fabulous

 

 

Ingredients:  Large baking tray lined with parchment12 oz. Semi-sweet chocolate chips – I use trader Joes or use dark chocolate3/4 cup nuts – of your choice, I like walnuts, almonds, pistachios (sunflower or pumpkin seeds are great too)1/4 cup dried fruit – your choice but I like, figs, Candied ginger, dried cherries or cranberriesSprinkle sea saltLarge handful pretzels (optional)

 

Instructions:Place the nuts and the dried fruit on a cutting board and chopped into small pieces.  Do the same for the pretzels if you are using them. Set aside.Put the chocolate chips or the dark chocolate in a bowl suitable for the microwave.  Microwave the chocolate in 30 second intervals.  Stir well after each 30 seconds until all chocolate is melted.Spread the chocolate on the parchment paper – it should be pretty thin.  Press in all the dried fruit, nuts and pretzels on to the melted chocolate.  Press well with your hands – it all needs to sink in.Sprinkle a little sea salt all over.Let the bark cool down and it will eventually harden up.  If it’s taking too long to cool down, put the tray in the fridge. Crack the bark into pieces large or small and savor every last drop!