Chocolate Bark with Sugar-Coated Nuts and Spices

This was our Valentine’s treat – simple yet still somehow festive. We don’t own a candy thermometer so tempering chocolate or finding the perfect caramelization point are out of bounds, making the choice of homemade candy somewhat limited around here. Luckily the simple elegance of a drop of chocolate speckled by crushed pink peppercorns is enough to make us very happy!

chocolates

Heikki and I liked the chocolate that was sprinkled with both cardamom and pink peppercorns most, and the nutty chocolate did have a nice sugary crunch to it as well. Next time I might just add our favorite spices right into the melted chocolate and then sprinkle with nuts, although it was nice to have a variety of flavors to taste and compare this time.

Sugar-Coated Nuts:

I didn’t actually caramelize the nuts for this chocolate bark – they only got a thin coat of whole cane sugar, more brittle than the solid caramel you’d get by boiling the sugar for a longer time. This is a lovely treat by itself and we munched the leftovers from the chocolate-making in no time at all.

  • 4 tablespoons whole cane sugar (rapadura)
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons water
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 dl pecans, chopped
  • 2 dl cashews, chopped

First, I mixed the sugar, oil, water, and salt in a cup to make a smooth-ish paste. Then I chopped the nuts coarsely with a heavy non-serrated knife, and toasted them on high heat until fragrant and just very lightly browned. I lowered the heat and poured the sugar mixture in the pan, stirring with a wooden fork, and it started bubbling right away.

I let it boil for a minute or two, until the water had evaporated and all the nuts were coated with the sugar. Then I spread the mixture on a piece of baking parchment, separating the bits from each other, and let it cool.

Making the Chocolate Bark:

  • 200 g (or more) chocolate
  • crushed pink peppercorns, ground cardamom, crushed peppermint candies, sugar-coated nuts, cinnamon, etc.

I used a bunch of different “leftover” chocolates for this one, most of them about 70 % cocoa solids. I divided the chocolate bars in small pieces, and melted them in a water bath (first boiled the water, then took the pot off heat and placed the chocolate bowl in the pot). Then I poured the chocolate on a piece of baking parchment in smaller and larger mounds, and spread them a little bit until about 3 to 4 millimeters thick.

Now I sprinkled the chocolate with my favorite things: pink peppercorns alone and combined with cardamom or cinnamon, mint candies, and the sugary nuts from above. I let the chocolates sit in room temperature until settled, for a few hours I’d say.

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