After making my scones yesterday I still had cranberries to use. For some reason, the thought of dark chocolate, almonds and cranberries together seemed like a good idea. So a set out to make some cranberry almond bark. The first thing I had to do want cut the cranberries up into halves because whole cranberries clearly weren’t going to work. They are just too big. Next I discovered the almonds I had were raw. Normally, I prefer raw almonds for snacking. However, in a candy the fact they lack the crispier texture and browned taste of roasted almonds they are kind of unpleasant. So I flipped the oven on to 350 and spread them on on a baking pan to roast/toast. I just threw them in for as long as it took the oven to come up to temperature. I’d pull them out every few minutes and “shake” them on the pan to ensure they were browning/cooking evenly.
Once I had my almonds and cranberries, I needed to get the chocolate melted. Melting chocolate throughly and correctly is a bit of an art IMHO. If you use the microwave there is a HIGH likelihood you’ll either burn it or pieces won’t melt. In the worse scenario, you do both simultaneously. For this reason, I like going “old school” when it comes to melting chocolate. This means using a double-boiler. “WTF, you say! I don’t need another kitchen gadget that is single purpose”. First of all double boilers aren’t single purpose. If you make custards you’ll want one of these to help you not curdle your eggs. Second, you don’t need a “real” double boiler. You can fake it with a sauce pan and a appropriate size metal or glass bowl. Fill your sauce pan with enough want to leave a bit of space so that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of your bowl when you place it IN the sauce pan. Bring the sauce pan to a boil. Insert your bowl with chocolate and start stirring. Make sure you use a wooden or metal spoon people. You’ll melt plastic and ruin your chocolate. The trickiest thing about this technique is the bowl gets HOT and when your chocolate is melted you have to remove it from the pan without benefit of a handle. A fire/heatproof glove is HIGHLY recommended for this. But a pot holder or tongs will work in a pinch.
Back to our bark recipe. Now that I had my faux double boiler up and running, I added 1 package of semi-sweet Ghiradelli chocolate chips and 1 unsweetened Ghiradelli chocolate bar. Why this combo? It is what I had. Ideally I’d use 2 bags of the 60% dark Ghiradelli chips but I was hacking this one with what I had on hand. Once I had my chocolate melted I folded in the cranberries and almonds. Then I spread the mixture out on a parchment covered baking sheet to cool. You can speed the cooling process up by sticking the baking sheet in the freezer but to avoid condensation I’d suggest you wait until the chocolate is slightly warm rather than scorching hot. My final product was a great consistency but I’m on the fence about the taste. The tart cranberries and chocolate are REALLY awesome together. But the raw cranberry texture isn’t what I’d hoped for. If I had my choice I’d used dried cranberries I’d dried myself to get the ideal tartness and texture.