Barking up the right tree – Three wise gifts – #easyrecipes for a #DIYChristmas

Christmas bark - three easy food gifts to make for the holidays - Karen Anderson - Savour it all blog

Easy to make food gifts for the holidays – photo credit – Karen Anderson

This post delivers three easy – mostly no bake – chocolate-y treats you can give or enjoy for the holidays. There’s a luscious Dark Chocolate Bark, Oreo Candy Cane White Chocolate Bark and my new favourite – Pretzel Toffee Crack. Chocolate is such a great ingredient.

First things first – here’s a few bark-making tips:
Chocolate melts at less than your body’s temperature. It can “shock” or fall apart or crystallize if it gets to hot so I prefer melting it in the microwave on half power and stopping before every morsel is melted. If you use a little elbow grease to quickly stir it at that point, it will complete the melting process without the risk of overheating.
If you don’t have a microwave, you can melt chocolate in a double boiler over quietly simmering water but you need to be very careful to do so on the lowest heat possible and to not allow any water to mix with the chocolate. Those are the most likely causes your chocolate will shock or freeze up.
Always line your pan with parchment or foil.
Barks freeze well for up to 2 weeks.

Kitchen stuff you’ll need: 
Digital kitchen scale
Various sizes of glass baking dishes or jelly roll pan baking sheets
Aluminium foil or parchment paper

candy making, christmas bark, homemade christmas gifts, food gifts, savour it all blog, Karen Anderson

Dazzling Dark Chocolate Bark – photo credit – Karen Anderson

Dazzling Dark Chocolate Bark
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes including 1 hour chilling time
Yield: 18 – 24 portions

This is an exotic blend of toppings featuring the season’s jewels – pomegranate, candied ginger and orange peel – dazzles against the shiny dark chocolate. There are just so many possibilities for toppings. Be creative. As long as you start with great chocolate as the common denominator you can’t go wrong.

600 grams (20 ounces) very good quality melting chocolate*
¼ cup fresh pomegranate seeds – dried with paper towels
¼ cup diced candied ginger
¼ cup diced orange peel
2 Tablespoons unsalted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 teaspoon Maldon salt

Place the chocolate in a microwaveable bowl and cook on half power for 3 minutes. Stir until the chocolate finishes melting and pour into a 13 x 9-inch lined baking dish that’s been lined with aluminium foil.
Smooth the top of the chocolate, pushing it to cover the pan and then sprinkle the top with the pomegranate, ginger, orange peel, pumpkin seeds and salt.
Refrigerate 1 hour and then snap or cut into shards.

*I used some Cacao Barry Equateur Origine chocolate pistols that I won at a Women Chefs and Restaurateurs conference. The melted chocolate had a lovely sheen which all bark should have if it could have.

Food Gifts you can make - Karen Anderson - Savour it all Blog

Oreo Candy Cane White Chocolate Bark – photo credit – Karen Anderson

Oreo Candy Cane White Chocolate Bark
Time: 1 hour including cooling time
Yield: 18 – 24 pieces

6 candy canes
16 – 18 mini Oreos
1 lb white chocolate pieces  (Barry Callebaut from the Superstore bulk bins worked well)

Crush the candy canes in a thick plastic bag by pounding them with a rolling pin or hammer. Crush the Oreos in the same fashion and set both aside.
Place the chocolate in a microwaveable bowl and heat for 3 minutes in a microwave on 50 per cent power.
Stir any partially melted bits until the chocolate is smooth.
Stir both the candy canes and Oreos into the chocolate and then spread it into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
Refrigerate for 45 minutes to set then cut or crack it into shards.

Pretzel toffee bark - Karen Anderson - Savour it All blog

Pretzel Toffee Crack – photo credit – Karen Anderson

Pretzel Toffee Crack

Adapted from Chatelaine – December, 2016
Time:1.5 hours including cooling time
Yield: 24 portions

This was fun to make. For my first batch, I made it the way the recipe instructed but for the next batch I topped it with crushed candy canes and we liked it even more. I’d also try diced candied ginger, apricots or dried cherries and toasted almonds or pistachios.

200 grams pretzel alphabet letters or waffle style pretzels
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 cups milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used milk)
½ cup chopped shelled pistachios
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup white chocolate pieces

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Line a rimmed 11 x 17-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
Arrange the pretzels in one layer on the parchment.
Combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and salt in a saucepan on medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally until it starts to boil.
Boil for 5 minutes without stirring, brushing the sides of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in cold water if the mixture starts to rise.
Pour the caramel over the pretzels as evenly as possible.
Place the pan in the oven and bake for 12 minutes then remove and quickly coat with the chocolate chips.
Let the pan stand for 3 minutes then use a spatula to spread the chocolate to cover the pretzel-toffee completely.
Sprinkle with the topping of your choice (nuts, fruit, candy cane).
Place the white chocolate in a microwavable dish and microwave about one minute on half power, stir and then drizzle over the pan.
Cool for 30 minutes.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Break into shards.
Keeps well in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

This column is dedicated to my sweet friend, Jeremy Fokkens. Jeremy gave me a wonderful gift last week. He shared his time and talents helping me put my DSLR camera to much better use. Thank you for this blessing my generous friend. You are a great photographer and a  great teacher.

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