A whole host of gorgeous dried fruits and nuts is sunken in to a layer of pure white chocolate that sits on top of another layer of dark chocolate. This would be a sumptuous food gift, and it takes no effort to make. The biggest trouble will be choosing your fruit and nuts.
Contrary to what you hear, the microwave works just fine for melting chocolate. It's my preferred method. I like to use a glass measuring cup to do this because the glass holds the heat and helps melt the chocolate, and the spout makes it easy to pour the chocolate out. Also contrary to what you hear, you can use chocolate chips for melting. They actually work well because they are already in small pieces, so they don't require a lot of time to melt, and the less exposure to heat, the less problems you'll have. Of course you can use fine bar chocolate, too, but chips are less expensive, convenient and often on hand. So for 1 batch of bark, you just need to pick up a couple of bags of chips and you're good to go.
This is where the fun begins. Assemble a mix of your favorite dried fruit and nuts. No duds, just the good stuff as you define it. I used apricots, golden raisins, cherries, pineapple, cranberries, pistachios, macadamias, pecans, almonds, red walnuts, hazelnuts, and cashews. Load it up, after all that's in the spirit of fruitcake.
Roasted nuts have much better flavor and crunch, so if your nuts are raw, roast them on a dry pan in a 350 degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, watching them carefully and shaking the pan every now and then. You can even use salted nuts it you like the sweet and salty combination.
Whatever your combination of fruit and nuts, you'll want approximately a cup, or a little more, to sprinkle over the top layer of your bark. You can go as heavy or a light as you want with these. The more colorful and varied in texture, the better. I left the pecans, pistachios, cherries and cranberries whole for variety.
1 12 oz bag dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 12 oz bag white chocolate chips
about 1 to 1 1/2 cups assorted colorful dried fruit and roasted nuts, rough chopped or left whole
- Put the dark chocolate chips in a glass bowl or measuring cup and microwave for 1 minute. Take out, stir, and if the chips aren't completely melted put it back in the microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring in between, until the chocolate is glossy and lump free.
- Spread out the chocolate into approximately a 9x12 rectangle on a baking sheet that's been lined with parchment paper or a silpat liner. The lining is important because you will need the bark to come off easily once it has hardened. Spread out the chocolate as evenly as you can; an offset spatula works well for this.
- Let the layer of chocolate harden. You can set it aside, or put the tray in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- Melt the white chocolate in the same way, and spread it out evenly over the dark chocolate.
- While the white chocolate is still warm, scatter the fruit and nuts evenly over the entire surface. Press down gently to insure that they stick as the chocolate hardens.
- Set aside to harden ar room temperature, or place in the refrigerator.
- Cut into pieces, or leave whole.
Whether you make this for dessert, as a gift, or just to have around the house for the holidays, you're getting a lot of bang for the buck. Chocolate is often on sale these days, so grab a few bags next time you see a good deal. You probably already have a bunch of the fruit and nuts on hand. If not, Trader Joe's has a great selection, and great prices.
Way, way better than fruitcake, don't you think?