Almond joy bark

October 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

This Halloween, I’ve been inspired by the many examples of chocolate bark made with Halloween candy, like this one here, and this other one here.  Every year for Christmas, I usually make a couple of batches of peppermint bark, and it is soooo good, I needed to extend the usefulness of that recipe to more holidays. So, I thought about many varieties of Halloween bark, but it seemed best just to turn one of my favorite Halloween candies in to it’s own bark. Fortunately for me, I seemed to know a lot of kids that despised coconut (my sister included) back when I was still trick-or-treating, so I was able to trade my boring Three Musketeers and Hershey’s bars for Mounds and Almond Joys.    Here’s what I used to transform one of my favorite Halloween treats, the Almond Joy bar, into some tasty bark:

  • 120z. white chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup crushed slivered almonds
  • 6oz. dark or semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut
  • 8 mini Almond Joy bars, chopped in to quarters (optional)

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler or (carefully!) in the microwave.

3.  When the chocolate is melted and smooth, add the almond extract and mix well.  Add the crushed almond slivers and mix well.

4.  Pour the melted chocolate mixture on to the prepared baking sheet and spread it using a spatula so that it is about 1/8 inch thick.  (This will most likely cover about 1/2 to 2/3 of the baking sheet.  It doesn’t have to cover the whole thing– just try to make it rectangular.  And, of course, it’s ok if the edges are messy.)

5.  Put the baking sheet in the fridge and let cool for 1 hour.

6.  In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  When it is ready, toast the coconut on a baking sheet for approximately 5-8 minutes.

7.  After the white chocolate layer has cooled, prepare the dark chocolate ganache.  Heat the heavy cream until just boiling.  Pour the cream over the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and stir consistently until the chocolate is completely melted, smooth and shiny.

8. Add the toasted coconut to the chocolate and mix well.  Pour the melted chocolate over the white chocolate layer and evenly spread using a spatula.

9. If desired, placed the chopped Almond Joy bars on to the melted chocolate layer.  Place in the fridge and let cool for up to one hour. 

10.  When ready to serve, chop the bark into squares with a sharp knife.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.  If stacking bark pieces on top of each other, cover each layer with parchment or wax paper.

Notes on this bark: I was quite happy with how this turned out.  There are many options in terms of how you combine the chocolate layers and the almonds and coconut.  I think the use of coconut extract would also be a good option instead of the almond extract.  I usually don’t add as much cream to the dark chocolate as I did in this recipe (in order to have a harder ganache), but I liked the softer texture of this ganache for this particular bark.  It makes it quite reminiscent of an actual candy bar. I highly recommend trying it!


Toasted coconut chocolate chip bars

October 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

These treats normally go by any number of other names, but, I have to say, I’m not a big fan of any of those other names.  I much prefer the more descriptive but boring: toasted coconut chocolate chip bar.  The main inspiration I had for these bars was to use up some pantry ingredients (namely, coconut and chocolate chips).  Not much of an inspiration, I know, but you can’t taste that in the final product.  They turned out moist, chewy and delicious!  I adapted the recipe from Baking Illustrated.  Here’s what I used:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 tblsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Spread the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes.  Mix coconut 2-3 times during baking to toast it evenly.  It should be light brown.  Set aside and let cool.

3. Line a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray, if desired.

4. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

5. In another medium bowl, mix the melted butter and brown sugar.  Mix in the eggs and vanilla.

6. With a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Fold until all ingredients are just mixed, but don’t overmix!

7. Add the chocolate chips and toasted coconut and fold into the mixture.

8.  Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and smooth slightly on top using a rubber spatula.

9. Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes, until the top is shiny and crackly.

10. Let cool on cooling rack and cut into bars before serving.

Notes on these bars: These bars were not exactly what I expected out of the oven.  For some reason, I imagined them to be a little bit more cakey, and less dense.  But, I’m glad I imagined wrong.  I think the density was actually perfect, and lead to a very moist and perfectly chewy bar.  These were really great right out of the oven (I kept cutting off bigger and bigger pieces before they had even cooled!), but they also kept very well in an airtight contained for almost a week!  There is really only one small change I might consider next time:  add more coconut.  I love coconut, so I could always have more, but I think the flavor here was a bit too subtle.  Maybe 2 cups of coconut would have worked just a bit better?  I’ll let you know how it turns out next time.

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