Yelly Eats

Chocolate bark

I saw Ina Garten make this in one of her shows and I thought, “Wow that looks really easy!”

And believe me, it was really easy!  All you have to do is melt chocolate of your choice (I used half dark chocolate and half milk chocolate to balance the bitterness of the chocolate) in a heatproof bowl over boiling water, making sure that the boiling water didn’t touch the bowl.  The process might be slow but the chocolate comes out really beautiful and shiny.

Then you spread the chocolate over wax or parchment paper and sprinkle your choice of nuts and dried fruit and let it cool and become solid.  It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t put the cooling chocolate into the fridge.  Doing this will cause the chocolate to lose its sheen.  Also, if you intend to use dark chocolate (60% or higher), it might be a good idea to temper the chocolate with a heaping teaspoon of icing sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla paste so that the bitter taste is calmed down.

Chocolate bark cooling

Once the chocolate has cooled and hardened, you can either use a sharp knife to slice the chocolate into shapes or break them apart with your hands.  I prefer the knife option though, because if you break the chocolate up with your hands, the natural heat of your hands will make you leave finger prints all over the chocolate.

You can vary the sprinkles, depending on who this is for.  I placed salted cashews, dried apricots, dried berries and dried cranberries.  This makes for a tasty goodie bag item, which I learned, is also called a “hostess giveaway”

Chocolate bark

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Yelly Eats

Food for the gods

I’ve always loved these chewy bars.  When I was younger, you could only get food for the gods at Christmas time.  It was a favourite Christmas giveaway.  Or at least that’s how I remembered it.  I think they’re now more available in shopes and one doesn’t have to wait for Christmas to enjoy these date and walnut filled bars (although in hindsight, I think in the Philippines they used raisins or prunes and instead of walnuts they used pili)!

I thought I’d try my hand at making them myself (like I always say, necessity is the mother of invention!).  I looked for the simplest recipe and hit the jackpot with the one I’m sharing.  It’s not as moist as I thought it would be (but that might be because I forgot to add the 1 tablespoon of honey that’s required or it might be that the oven was a tiny bit too hot!  Practice makes perfect and I have enough dates for a few more attempts.  I will revise the recipe when I’ve found MY perfect medium) but it certainly tasted the way I remembered it.

If you try the recipe, let me know how you get on, please!  I definitely welcome sharing trade secrets! 🙂

Adapted from: http://gourmeted.com/2007/12/12/food-for-the-gods/

Ingredients:

Makes 16 – 20 bars

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F or 180C.  Line a brownie pan with parchment paper (wax paper will do just fine).  You can use a 13.5″ x 8″ pan.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Add chopped dates and chopped walnuts and mix until dates and walnuts are coated with flour and evenly distributed in the flour mixture.  Set aside.
  3. Beat eggs and sugars until well-incorporated.  Add vanilla extract (Ina Garten aka the Barefoot Contessa, says to use the best that you can because the better ingredients you have because the product turns out better) and the honey.  Add the melted butter until well-incorporated.
  4. Fold in the flour-date-walnut mixture until batter is uniform and everything is mixed well.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 30-40 minutes (depending on the oven).  Test with a toothpick.  It should be done if the toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely before slicing into bars or squares.