Valentine treats made simple
By ALISON LADMAN
The Associated Press
Looking for an easy way to impress this Valentine’s Day? Consider a simple — but still sensational — chocolate bark.
As treats go, it doesn’t get much easier than this. And the best part is that there are infinite ways to personalize the bark. You know, so that you can show that you really do listen to your significant other.
Start with a pound of chocolate. It can be white, milk or dark. Doesn’t matter. Then add toppings, things like nuts, coconut, dried fruit, or more creative options such as pumpkin seeds and caramel popcorn. Look for contrasts — something crunchy, something tangy, something salty.
We’ve created several combinations that are rich in contrast and beautiful in appearance, but feel free to play with the toppings and care enough to cater to his or her tastes.
Of course, because it is the star of the show, be sure to use a good quality chocolate.
VALENTINE’S DAY BARK
Start to finish: 20 minutes
1 pound dark, milk or white chocolate
—Large-flake coconut, toasted sliced almonds, cocoa nibs
—Chopped dried cherries, shelled pistachios, chopped chocolate wafer cookies, large flake sea salt
—Honey-roasted peanuts, chopped extra-crispy cooked bacon, ground black pepper
—Crushed toffee pieces, toasted pumpkin seeds, chopped dried apricots
—Chopped candied ginger, chopped macadamia nuts, toasted coconut
—Broken salted pretzel sticks, cut up mini marshmallows, caramel popcorn
Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper. Have all bark toppings ready before melting chocolate.
If the chocolate is in bars or large, thick pieces, use a knife to carefully chop it up into small bits. Transfer the chocolate to a large glass measuring cup or bowl, then heat in the microwave on medium, stopping to stir every 20 to 30 seconds, until completely melted.
Pour chocolate onto prepared pan, then tap the pan on the counter to level the melted chocolate. Immediately sprinkle your choice of toppings over the surface of the chocolate.
Allow to cool completely and set up, then break into pieces.