Holidays, Recipes

Dark Chocolate Bark with Goji Berries, Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds and Ginger

Posting from HQ: October 29

Chocolate bark is a great recipe to have on hand throughout the holidays for an easy dessert or beautiful hostess gift. This dark chocolate version showcases simple, pure ingredients high in antioxidants and known for their powerful health benefits. We love the contrast of sweet sun-dried Goji berries with the crunch of salted pumpkin seeds.

But don’t be shy! This recipe is easily adapted to kid-pleasing combos including crushed cookies and candies or bits of toffee and granola.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup roasted almonds, slivered

1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup sun-dried Goji berries

1/2 cup crystallized ginger, thinly sliced

16 oz. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

a pinch of sea salt

Notes:

To achieve a finished result that is both tasty and gift-worthy, it is important to temper, rather than simply melt, your chocolate. This is because as chocolate cools and solidifies, the cocoa butter in chocolate forms a crystal structure. If chocolate cools on its own, the crystal structure will be loose and your bark will be soft and malleable with a dull finished appearance. Instead, if the melted chocolate is held within the ‘tempering range’ (88-90 degrees Fahrenheit for dark chocolate, 86-88 degrees for milk chocolate), the cocoa butter will form a more dense crystalline structure. So when the chocolate cools completely, it will harden into a very stable chocolate with an appealing sheen, and satisfying snap. It will also keep for months at cool room temperature.

It can be tricky to temper chocolate. A good rule of thumb is to remember that chocolate melts at around your body temperature and should be worked with near that temperature. Many people are accustomed to working with chocolate at closer to boiling temperature. Chocolate should never rise above 115 degrees at full melt. So using a thermometer is key.

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Melt 2/3 of your chocolate in a double boiler, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Using an instant-read thermometer, bring the dark chocolate to just under 115 degrees. Remove from heat and add the remaining 1/3 chunks of chocolate and stir gently to incorporate. The warm chocolate will gradually melt the chopped chocolate, slowly bringing down the overall temperature. Stir constantly until completely smooth and melted and the thermometer reads 88-90 degrees. Your chocolate is now tempered!

Using a spatula, spread the chocolate on the parchment paper in a layer approximately 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle evenly with Goji berries, pumpkin seeds, ginger, almonds and sea salt. Gently press the ingredients into the chocolate. Allow bark to cool completely.

Use a sharp knife to cut into pieces. Enjoy!

Inspiration and Ideas

Reaching Out Luncheon

Posting from HQ:  October 17

jcoco, Seattle Chocolates’ newest brand, was thrilled to help sponsor Hopelink’s Reaching Out Luncheon on Monday.  We heard from Author Jeanette Walls, and Connie Chapin, a former Hopelink client.  Both women did a fabulous job articulating their personal stories of how poverty has shaped their lives.  Connie explained, ‘going hungry is not the hard part, it’s the shame.  That’s what you remember’.  Many millions of readers already know Jeanette’s story from The Glass Castle, which was written because of Jeanette’s decision to face, rather than hide, her shame of growing up in poverty.

Although their circumstances were different, both of these women ultimately told an infectious story of hope and optimism.  Both have successfully found a way to self-sufficiency and both passionately support Hopelink for its mission of lifting people and families out of crisis.

jcoco is thrilled to be building partnerships with organizations like Hopelink across the country.  At a time when 1 in 5 people in America are living in poverty, we believe it is critical to use what we do to make a difference.  One fresh, healthy serving at a time.