chocolate

Coconut-Pistachio Chocolate Bark

20140112_210519

I love chocolate. Love. Dark chocolate is a more recent development, relatively speaking. I probably didn’t really join the dark chocolate camp until after college.

Pistachios are also more of a grown-up treat, don’t you think? I don’t remember liking them as a kid. Or having them around at all, now that I think about it (boxes of pistachio-flavored Jell-O instant pudding don’t count). Older and wiser me is all about the curious little green nut.

I work in market research. One of my favorite research partners, Davis Research, sends a canister of pistachios every December. Laugh, but we look forward to it all year (or at least, from the time the previous year’s batch runs out!). While I love snacking on them, I like mixing it up a bit and finding new ways to use them.

20140114_144536

This coconut-pistachio chocolate bark is adapted slightly from Bon Appetit’s annual Food Lover’s Cleanse, a two-week program designed for foodies to get on the resolutions bandwagon with a food palate reset. A friend and I each made several recipes from this year’s Cleanse, with varying reactions, but this recipe was definitely a keeper.

A few tips:

Buy the good stuff. The first ingredient should be cacao.

If you’re new to bittersweet chocolate, go a little further than you’re accustomed to, but not so far that you won’t eat it. The point is to still have a treat while cutting back on sugar. The recipe calls for a chocolate that’s at least 70% cacao, but if you don’t normally go any darker than semisweet chocolate, start with 60%.

Melt the chocolate slowly. A double boiler is best, but the microwave works. When chocolate melts properly, it should be shiny and smooth.

Unsweetened coconut. Repeat: unsweetened coconut. “Regular” flaked and shredded coconut is, like, 99% sugar (okay, maybe not 99%, but it is a lot). If your regular grocery store doesn’t carry it, try a natural or specialty food store.

Don’t skip the salt… unless your pistachios were already salted. It really brings out the flavor.

20140112_183840

Coconut-Pistachio Chocolate Bark

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes about eight 1-oz. servings

1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70% or more cacao)
3 tablespoons chopped roasted pistachios
Flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Spread out coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, stirring occasionally, until most flakes are straw-colored, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in 30-second intervals in a microwave, stirring between each interval. Spread melted chocolate on baking mat in an even layer about 1/8″ thick. Scatter toasted coconut and pistachios evenly over chocolate. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt.

Let chocolate cool completely, then break into pieces. Bark will keep for about a week stored in a cool place in an airtight container.

Oreo Balls

image

For a holiday party tonight, I needed a quick, festive finger food to bring. I recalled seeing these Oreo “truffles” somewhere, did a quick online search, and found the recipe.

They require just three ingredients and come together in about 15 minutes of hands-on time with a food processor. They made a great addition to a communal snack table.

image

Oreo Balls
From Kraft

Makes 2 dozen

18 Oreo cookies
4 oz. cream cheese
4-6 oz. semisweet chocolate

In a food processor, process Oreos into crumbs. Add cream cheese and process until smooth. Form into one-inch balls (I used a slightly smaller cookie scoop) and freeze for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate. Working quickly,  roll the balls in chocolate and place on a cookie sheet lined wIth waxed paper. (If decorating with sprinkles, sugars or cookie crumbs, add quickly before the chocolate sets.) Refrigerate for at least one hour or until ready to serve. 

“Sumbitches” Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Caramel Cookies

This recipe is going to be Legen… wait for it…

20131012_210313

How I Met Your Mother is such a cute show, and I’m excited to see how they wrap up the characters’ storylines in the final season. At the tail end of last season we finally saw “The Mother,” and in the final season debut she shared some delicious cookies with Lily.

Nicknamed “sumbitches,” they’re peanut butter, chocolate and caramel. I opted for Rolos, but I think any bite-sized candy would be delicious. Just think tiny — the cookies are already big!

… dary. Legendary.

Enjoy.

20131012_211557

“Sumbitches” Peanut Butter, Chocolate & Caramel Cookies

From People.com’s Great Ideas Blog
Makes 36 cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
36 bite-size chocolate-covered caramel candy bars (I used Rolos)

Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until blended.

Stir together flour and next 2 ingredients in a small bowl. Add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Shape a 2 tbsp. dough around each mini candy bar, using lightly floured hands, and roll into balls. Place 3 inches apart on ungreased or parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake for 13 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.