Cinnamon and Ancho Chile Chocolate Bark
We love developing recipes that have 'sweet heat' - they start out sweet and finish with an unexpected, spicy kick. In this recipe, we combined rich, dark chocolate, warm and earthy Ceylon Cinnamon and smoky Ancho Chile Flakes for a chocolate bark that's got depth and a little bit of fire. Once you add tart cranberries, cashews and pistachios, this treat will be the hit of the party! This is a recipe that also makes a great holiday gift.
Ancho chiles are fruity, sweet, and slightly smoky, with undertones of plum, raisin, tobacco and a subtle earthy bitterness. We used a generous amount of chile flakes in this recipe, but you can adjust that down (or up!) if you wish. Try to find cashews that are roasted, but not salted. If you can only find salted nuts, then do not add any additional salt to the bark. Shelled pistachios are a real time-saver here, and again, try to find an unsalted variety. When you chop them, don't make them too fine. You want nice, big, identifiable pieces of nut running through the chocolate, which is not only delicious but creates textural interest as well, particularly in contrast to the soft, chewy cranberries. If you're using salt to finish, choose a salt with a larger grain. Use something flaked, or something coarse. This, again, adds contrast and texture to the overall dish.
Since bark isn't really "cooked", using high-quality chocolate does make a difference in that it delivers the best quality flavor and smooth meltability. While many people try to melt chocolate in a microwave, we don't recommend that. If you allow microwaves to melt chocolate a little too long it can seize, or turn into a grainy, clumpy mess that's hard to rescue. Seizing happens when the moisture in chocolate cooks out, which is easier to do in a microwave, which boils the moisture from the chocolate. If you must use a microwave to melt chocolate, heat it in 20 second increments, and then stir, until it is melted, but not overly hot.
We used a double-boiler to melt our chocolate. This can help prevent seizing by melting the chocolate with steam heat, which has more moisture than microwave heat, though if you leave it on too long you can still run into problems. You don't have a double-boiler? Don't worry! Sit a glass or stainless steel mixing bowl over the top of a pot filled about 1/3 of the way with water. Bring the water to an easy boil, and sit the chocolate in the bowl. Stir steadily until chocolate turns smooth and glossy, and then carefully remove from heat, since the bowl may be hot. Voila! Melted chocolate, ready for use!
- 1 Tablespoon Ancho Chile Flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Star Anise
- 3/4 teaspoon Ground Cloves
- 1 teaspoon Ground Ceylon Cinnamon
- 2/3 cup pistachios, shelled and chopped
- 2/3 cup cashews, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 12 ounces dark, bittersweet chocolate, cut into pieces
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt, optional
- In a small bowl, add Ancho Chile Powder, Ground Star Anise, Ground Cloves and Ceylon Cinnamon Powder, mix to combine.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the cashews, pistachios, and cranberries on the baking sheet.
- Slowly melt 3/4 of the chocolate, remove from heat.
- Add the remaining chocolate and coconut oil to the warm, melted chocolate.
- Stir until chocolate and coconut oil are melted and combined
- Add the ground spices and stir to combine.
- Pour the chocolate onto the baking sheet, over the nuts and cranberries in an even layer. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate if needed. If using salt, sprinkle over the top.
- Let cool to room temperature and move the baking sheet to the refrigerator for 45 minutes, or until chocolate is set.
- Break into large pieces and serve.
- Remaining bark can be stored in the refrigerator.