I could not end without a taste of fine dark chocolate. Toasted almonds, tart cherries, and a zippy touch of ginger give this simple bark a complex flavor. A plate of these dark, shiny shards of chocolate can be served with a cup of coffee for a minimalist dessert, or a few jagged pieces can elevate any scoop of ice cream or bowl of pudding. Use only the highest-quality dark chocolate; chocolate with at least 65 percent cocoa is best.
Kitchen equipment required: Large baking sheet, double boiler, medium saucepan
- 1 pound top-quality bittersweet chocolate
- 2/3 cup lightly toasted almonds
- 2/3 cup dried tart cherries
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
Line a large baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat. Break the chocolate into pieces. Coarsely chop half the almonds.
Use a double boiler, or rig one: Put an inch or 2 of water into a medium saucepan and bring the water to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Set a large, heatproof bowl over the saucepan, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Put the chocolate into the bowl and melt it slowly, stirring constantly.
When the chocolate is completely melted, remove the bowl to the counter and stir in the chopped almonds, most of the cherries, and the ginger. Spoon the mixture onto the parchment-lined pan and use a rubber spatula to spread it into a fairly thin sheet, about 10 by 14 inches, distributing the almonds and fruit throughout the sheet.
Sprinkle the whole toasted almonds and the remaining cherries over the top, pressing down on them lightly to make sure they stick. Put the pan in the refrigerator and allow the chocolate to cool until it hardens completely, at least 1 hour and possibly longer, depending on thickness. Break the sheet of chocolate bark into random pieces, and keep the pieces cold in a parchment-lined container until ready to serve.