Friday, December 2, 2011

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Bark

Tomorrow, I will turn 29 years old.  I am officially entering the last year of my twenties (sigh).  My father is reading this at his desk this morning wondering where the time went.  It wasn't all that long ago we danced together in the living room to Elton John's Tiny Dancer.  I would stand on top of his feet in my slippers, moving whichever way his feet shifted to the music.  It wasn't a serious dance, but a playful one.  The kind of dance where we belted out lyrics and stumbled around furniture.  I called my father at work on my tenth birthday, declaring I would never again be a single digit.  It would be double digits from here on out, until of course, I reached one hundred.  If only we could be so lucky.  This past year, my father walked me down the aisle, my slippers having been replaced with white satin heels, each adorned with three tiny buttons from my grandmother's wedding dress.  This time, to the sounds of a harp.  Twenty-eight was pretty remarkable.

In honor of twenty eight's closure, and twenty-nine's arrival; I decided to make something special just for me.  Only one thing would do.  Chocolate.  I used to have quite an attachment to Ritter Sport, the square bar made of milk chocolate garishly enveloping plump hazelnuts.  I tried it for the first time in Germany and it became my daily snack during a summer trip in college.  Yes, I said snack.  In fact, it was even washed down with a few beers on occasion.  Classy.  When I realized I could find this candy bar back home, it turned into a full-blown obsession.  I found myself driving out of my way to the few specialty stores that carried it, stocking up my emergency stash like a squirrel on the brink of winter.  I hid it in my nightstand drawer, which was odd.  No one was searching for it.  Chocolate paranoia.  I get this from my grandmother.  She stores boxes of truffles under her bed.  Ironically, no one is looking for her chocolate either.

I'd like to think my diet has changed for the better since my teenage years.  And while I no longer make a meal out of chocolate and beer, I'll still be indulging in a healthier...make that classier, version.  Dark chocolate.  Red wine perhaps.  It's so 29.  I'm just oozing with sophistication.  I've developed a deep love, or might I say passion, for dark chocolate.  If you are a milk chocolate person, give dark chocolate a try.  Its potent antioxidants are an added bonus, as is the euphoria that ensues.  I believe it's referred to as 'mood enhancing.'  I refer to it as 'necessary.'  

A no-bake dark chocolate bark studded with whole hazelnuts that comes together in a matter of minutes.  It takes only three ingredients, and clean up is a breeze.  Perfect.  Nobody wants to spend a birthday in the kitchen.  I'd like to think my eighteen-year-old self would also approve of this concoction.  I think it goes without saying that you could take this in any direction you choose.  Pick your favorite nuts, dried fruit, ginger, or orange zest.  Design it any way you like, but don't forget the sea salt.  Let it cool in the fridge and then break it apart.  It's that easy.  Don't worry about how your pieces break.  It's meant to look rustic and homemade.  You can't mess it up.  I suspect twenty-nine will be just as sweet as twenty-eight.  Who knows what's in store for this next year, but in the meantime, I'll be engrossed in dark chocolate bark, trying not to over think it.  Here's to twenty-nine.  

~Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Bark~
Adapted from Whole Living, November

2 (3.5 oz) 70% dark chocolate bars, broken apart or chopped
1/2 cup hazelnuts, whole or roughly chopped
sprinkle of coarse sea salt

Line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper.  Melt chocolate in a double-boiler, or as I did with a bowl placed over a pan of boiling water.  Pour the melted chocolate onto the sheet pan.  Use a spatula to spread into a thin, rectangular shape.  Sprinkle with hazelnuts and sea salt.  Place the sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until it has hardened.  Use your hands to break the bark into rough pieces, any size you like.  These would make a nice hostess or holiday gift.  Bag a few pieces of bark and tie them off with bows. 


leaf (the indolent cook) said...

That looks gorgeous... so dark and rich and studded generously with hazelnuts. Yum!

Stephanie said...

Why thank you :) Thanks for visiting!

Amy said...

Happy Birthday, Stephanie (tomrrow)!! This post was so nice to read, one of my favorites. And your chocolate bark looks beautiful. I love your suggestion of adding in orange zest... orange and chocolate are one of my favorite combinations. Maybe almonds would work well with that? Well I'll have to try it out.

PS: I grew up on Tiny Dancer too. Elton John is the best. (As is ritter sport! My favorite is the one filled with marzipan :P)

Sue/the view from great island said...

I am so making this, how easy! I'm in a hazelnut mood lately since I roasted some for yesterday's cake. I love the addition of sea salt, yum!

Naomi Cohen said...

Amazing, my absolute chocolate favorite, too (including Ritter Sport). A very happy and sweet birthday to you. Your blog is so charming!

Mary said...

I hope you have a wonderful birthday. Your bark looks wonderful. I live in hazelnut country and will have no trouble getting the nuts to make this. I can't wait. It looks and sounds delicious. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Clair said...

Love this post!

Recipe looks easy peasy.

Happy birthday!

Sherilyn @ Wholepromise said...

That loos so yummy. I am not sure if i could resist eating all that myself. So easy as well.

Stephanie said...

I forgot about the marzipan-also amazing! Thanks for the birthday wishes :)I had a great day, and yes, it's so so easy! Enjoy.