Thursday, October 23, 2008
In the retail world, you are always experiencing the upcoming holiday well before you've even landed on that month in the calendar. Which suits me down to the ground because I lack in the patience department and can't wait to decorate the store and showcase all our new creations for the holiday. Throughout the next few months, I will be posting some ideas to get you started on some decadent homemade gifts for Christmas. Today's feature is Chocolate Almond Bark!
There's only two things you need to know about making Chocolate Almond Bark:
1. Use the best quality chocolate.
2. Learn to temper chocolate
1. Melt out all existing fat crystals
2. While agitating it, cool the chocolate to a temperature at which both stable and unstable crystals form rapidly.
3. Rewarm the chocolate to melt out unstable forms, leaving only crystals to seed the chocolate.
4. Maintain the chocolate at the proper temperature during use.
Finely chop your chocolate and put 1/2 in the bowl of a double boiler, with water in the base of your double boiler, melt chocolate over low heat until it is around 122 degrees F (feels warm but not HOT). Remove from heat and slowly start to add small amounts of the remaining finely chopped chocolate. Stirring vigorously, keep seeding in small amounts of chocolate until it reaches about 89 degrees F (does not feel warm or cold to the touch). To test if the chocolate is in temperature swizzle a spoon with some chocolate and set a timer for 3 minutes. If the chocolate is set within three minutes it is ready to use. If it is not set, you may need to seed a bit more chocolate to bring the temperature down and/or continue stirring to agitate the chocolate further.
Toasted Almond Bark
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and toast almonds until aromatic and dark gold in colour. COOL COMPLETELY. Temper chocolate (see above directions). Pour out chocolate onto parchment paper filling only about 1/3 of paper (you may have to repeat on several pieces of parchment, depending on how much chocolate you have tempered). Spread out to 1/4 inch thickness and sprinkle with almonds. Using an offset spatula, press almonds into chocolate and spear chocolate over top to cover the almonds completely, allow to completely harden (about 1-2 hours) and break into pieces. Package in festive tins, boxes or bags!