Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fruit & Nut Bark

Pretty much everything I did today was for my Secret Santa gifts. I went to Central Market and the Botanical Gardens to prepare...I've already decided (and I hope she doesn't yet know about my blog, otherwise the secret is blown!) what I'm going to do for her three gifts.

The first gift is a vase with pebbles and paperwhite bulbs. The hint in this gift is that my dad was a botanist, though the green thumb seems to have skipped a generation.

The second is going to be a print of a picture I took at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens today. The hint in this gift is that I like to take pictures. This isn't going to be a very good hint since we're doing our Secret Santa with the Photography team (haha!)

The last gift will be this fruit and nut chocolate bark. The hint here is that I like making food. I'd originally considered doing peppermint bark but then I wouldn't have had an excuse to go to Central Market today.

At Central Market, I headed right for the bulk foods section. (Have I mentioned before this is my favorite part of the store!? The cheese and bread section are tied for second place.) I picked up dried apricots, dried cranberries, raisins, and whole almonds.

I got this fruit and nut bark idea from an episode of Barefoot Contessa. Ina Garten used white chocolate. I'm not a big fan of white chocolate. First, it's not really chocolate. Second, it's way too sweet. Instead, I used a combination of milk chocolate and dark chocolate chips. About a 1:1 ratio. I put these in a ceramic bowl and microwaved for 30 seconds, stirring, and microwaving another 30 seconds, and so on until the chocolate was just about melted.

I spread out the chocolate on parchment paper, and (oops, I forgot to tell you that I chopped up the dried fruit and nuts) sprinkled the fruits and nuts on top. I sort of patted them down so that they would set in the chocolate when the chocolate hardened.

This big chunk of chocolate went into the fridge for about 45 minutes. After the chocolate hardened, I cut irregular chunks using a big hefty knife to make it look like bark.

I guess the beauty of this treat is that you can't feel too guilty about eating it. Dark chocolate is good for you and your mood. Almonds are good for lowering cholesterol. Cranberries are full of antioxidants and can cut bad cholesterol. Apricots have betacarotene and lots of fiber. Raisins also contain some antioxidants as well. Basically, if you eat this treat, you will feel happy and antioxidated!

Note: Try all sorts of combinations of dried fruits and nuts when you make yours!

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh MY! Such a colorful confection! I want some!