It’s hard to find someone that doesn’t like chocolate. For years, I was the only person I knew that would actually say “no thank you” when offered some decadent chocolate concoction. The only thing I would touch was white chocolate or imported Belgium chocolates. The white chocolate really wasn’t all that good and the Belgium chocolates were really hard to come by. At times, I’d pick up a freshly made truffle or two for a special occasion, but you still couldn’t get me to whole-heartedly experience the treats.
Today, it’s a different story. No, you won’t find me running out to buy some confectioner’s favorite $2 oz treat only to have it stuff my nose up and clog my throat. Those days are long over. Instead, I put together my own treats and share it with the people that I really love.
My favorite chocolate concoction right now is Macadamia Nut Apricot Bark. It’s really easy to make, lasts a long time (if you show a little self control) and will always bring a smile to your face – or anyone that you share it with. Everyone that I know that’s tried it has always asked for a second piece.
You have an hour? If so, clean out a little place in the fridge and break out the raw ingredients for a melt in your mouth treat is just a few pictures away.
Macadamia Nut Apricot Bark Confection
This one is amazingly simple. Gather the following:
- ½ lb Raw Organic Cacao Butter
- 1 tsp Chef’s grade Vanilla Powder
- 1 cup Raw Organic Dark Cacao Powder
- 25-30 Macadamia Nuts (as fresh as possible)
- About 12-15 dried Apricots
- 5 Tbsps Organic Raw Blue Agave
The quality of the end result depends on how these ingredients are all mixed together. Let’s go through the process.
Let’s start with the cacao. If you buy it in a 1 lb bag, divide it in ½. We only want about 8 ounces.
With the larger pieces, place them on a cutting board and shave it down to bits.
When you shave the cacao, you increase the surface area that will radically speed up the melting process.
Next, if you don’t have a dehydrator, you’ll want to work up a hot water bath.
Notice here I’ve got a larger bowl tilted in the sink that I’ve filled with the hottest tap water I can get. To that, I ‘float’ the bowl of shaved cacao. As the heat radiates through the bowl it melts the cacao that touches the bowl to look like this:
It might take about an hour to get the cacao to completely melt and you’ll want to stir it regularly so as to spread the melted cacao around the shaving so that they melt faster.
So, while the cacao is busy melting, it’s time to prepare the ‘mold’. I use a glass casserole pan that’s 9 by 12. The larger the pan, the thinner the chocolate bark. I like it on the thinner side so that it’s easy to break up after it hardens.
Inside the casserole pan, I line it with parchment paper. The following picture pretty much sums it up.
Now, with the collection of Macadamia Nuts, quarter them. If you chop the nuts up too small, you won’t be able to taste them. If they are two large, they overpower the chocolate. And don’t waste any crumb. Just through that in!
With the apricots, I cut them lengthwise into four strips before cutting them into little cubes. You’ll notice that they are smaller than the Macadamia Nut quarters.
When I lay them into the pan, I drop them in so that they are pretty evenly spaced. You want each bite to have a bit of nut and fruit.
By this time, the butter should be translucent. Or, basically, look like melted butter. Remove it from the bath and stir in the 1 cup cacao powder and 1 tsp vanilla powder.
You’ll want to stir this for a while. Make sure all the little dry clumps dissolve and that the vanilla powder breaks down. It tends to stick together so you’ll have to really work it. You’ll know that you’ve got it thoroughly mixed up when you stop stirring and little bubble rise to the surface.
At this point, it’s ready for the Agave. Add the five tablespoons and then start stirring again. The Agave tends to sink to the bottom, because it’s heavier and colder than the warm butter. As you stir it, it will warm (and cool the butter) as it evens out in the mixture.
Now, carefully pour it into the pan on top of the nuts and fruit.
At this point, it’s ready for the fridge. Let it cool (level) until hard. I let it go for a few hours.
Notice in this picture that the chocolate has shrunk away from the parchment paper just a tad.
Now comes the fun part, breaking it up into bite size pieces.
These taste like pure butter bits as then warm and melt in your mouth. The nuts satisfy that need to bite down on something and the fruit makes you chew it for a while.
And I have to say there is something magical about this combination of ingredients.
So, there you have it. It’s not hard, it just takes a little time for the cacao to melt. If you show a little self control, one half pound should last a couple weeks. I make it a point to only eat a few bits a day. You’ll be surprised how much of a kick it has, but it’s not like a cup of tea or coffee.
Oh, I just about forgot. The in thing (environmentally) now a days is to sell ‘product’ in little plastic Ziploc top bags. These things can be a pain to open for the plastic likes to stick together. So, to make it a little easier to open, I always make a second cut on the top so that one side is just a little longer than the other.
As you can see, I can now easily grab both sides of the bag to pop open the Ziploc. Give this a try next time you get a bag and see how it helps.
Enjoy your chocolate!