I write this as the Christmas tree sparkles in front of me, a clear morning sky and a bright sun in the background. The air is cold and pungent, perfect to wake you up after a long sleep. One more day off before we get back, a few more hours of festive celebrations. We haven’t quite given up sweets and rich foods for the January detox regime just yet…there is still some panettone left for breakfast, good for dipping into a steamy cup of coffee. There is still Epiphany today, the last day of the holiday season when stockings are filled with sweets and citrus and nuts.
One more sweet recipe, then, before we switch to salads and soups. It’s a dark chocolate bark with sea salt, indulgent but quite forgiving – a good in-between treat from everything sweet to no sweets at all. A good compromise that doesn’t taste like a compromise at all shall we say. For toppings, I went with citrus and almonds, both always unmistakably present in my stocking when I was a child – citrus for bulking up the content, and candied almonds picked up from the Christmas market between shopping errands. Also, some pistachios for colour, and sea salt for crunch and a savoury note. It is so easy to make you might be tempted to make it again and again: you can then swap the toppings with whatever nut or dry fruit you have in hand, but don’t skip the salt – it’s what really brings its flavour to another level.
And oh, friends: a very happy new year!
Salt-Kissed Dark Chocolate Bark with Candied Orange, Almonds and Pistachios
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof glass bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water (bain-marie) and allow the chocolate to melt slowly, stirring frequently with a hand whisk. Once the chocolate is completely melted, pour it on the lined baking sheet and smooth the surface using a spatula. You are aiming at a layer of chocolate that is 3-4mm thick.
While the chocolate is still hot, scatter the almonds, pistachios and orange peel all over its surface. Finish by sprinkling it all with salt.
Allow the chocolate to cool completely before transferring the baking sheet to the fridge for at least one hour. When hardened, you can cut the bark in irregular shapes and enjoy. Store in a cool place for optimum texture and crunch.
The recipe in Italian has appeared in the Speciale Befana I realised for Corriere della Sera.