It's Christmas Eve! Also known as the time you finally remember all the people you forgot to buy gifts for!
Wow, that many? You're almost as disorganized as me!
Well, don't fret. And don't even think about going to the mall at this point in the pouring rain. Are you totally out of your mind? That's the single fastest way to lose all of your holiday cheer. Instead, rummage around in your cupboard and find some chocolate, preferably bittersweet. Do you have any dried fruit, like cranberries or apricots? What about nuts? Bacon? Do you have bacon? Of course you do.
Now get cracking on some holiday bark. The process is simple. Melt some chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir in some mix-ins, reserving some for the top. Spread the mixture thinly on a parchment- or foil-lined pan, and then sprinkle with more goodies and maybe even some sea salt on top. Let the chocolate slab cool and harden in the fridge, then break it into asymmetrical pieces. Put some in little baggies and slap on a few bows. There.
Christmas is served!
Deborah Madison has a great recipe for apricot, pistachio, and cardamom bark I make every year. She also recommends trying it with dried figs and fennel seed, which I'm trying next time. There's the white chocolate, dried cranberry, and almond version you can find in my book on p. 125. Feel free to sub in pistachios for the almonds if you want the whole red and green thing going on. And then there's the new version of chocolate bark I made up this year with candied bacon with hazelnuts.
Bacon in your chocolate? You bet!
Happy holidays, everyone!
Dark Chocolate Bark with Candied Bacon and Hazelnuts
If you don't have any chocolate, you can just make the candied bacon all by itself. It is absolutely delicious, especially dipped in Nutella, which I learned from TeenNiece. Quadruple the amount of bacon and brown sugar in that case.
5 slices high-quality bacon
3-4 Tbsp. light brown sugar
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate (35-60% cacao)
1/3 cup blanched hazelnuts, roughly chopped
Sea salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lined a rimmed sheet pan with foil. Set the bacon on the pan about an inch apart. Sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of brown sugar. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes. Flip the bacon with tongs and sprinkle remaining brown sugar on top. Bake for 5-10 minutes more until the bacon is cooked and taking on some toasty color, but isn't burned (some of the sugar that melts off the bacon may burn on the foil, which won't hurt anything except maybe your pride, but you don't want the bacon itself to burn). Remove the bacon to a plate where it will crisp as it cools. In about 10 minutes, snap the bacon into small pieces.
Line another pan with foil or parchment paper. Bring an inch of water to a simmer in a small pot. Chop the chocolate into small pieces with a sharp knife and slide them into a metal bowl large enough to easily sit on top of the pot of water. Set the bowl over the pot and stir the chocolate until it is completely melted and smooth. Remove the chocolate from the pot and wipe the condensation from the bottom of the bowl with a dishtowel. Stir in a little over half of the bacon and hazelnut fragments. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on the prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining bacon and hazelnuts, as well as a few pinches of sea salt. Refrigerate until hard, at least an hour. Break the slab of chocolate into pieces.
Bacon: Chestnut Farms, Hardwick, MA