We made a chocolate bark. It was simply dark chocolate mixed with crisp rice cereal, toasted hazelnuts, and raisins. We rolled it out between two sheets of acetate. This produces a shiny finish, but a more matte finish can be achieved by rolling it between two layers of parchment paper.
We also used dark chocolate to make mendiants. They are a traditional French confectionery with fruits and nuts. The original had four things whose color referred to the colors of the robes of the four mendicant orders of the catholic church. Modernly, any appealing combination is likely. They are fairly simple. You pipe a disk of tempered chocolate, then quickly place nuts and fruit pieces into the chocolate before it sets. You want to place them in a pleasing pattern, so that all the colors are visible.
Finally, we used milk chocolate to make rochers. Rocher is French for 'rock'. I suppose they could look a little like a rock, assuming you'd never seen one (a rock, I mean). Anyway, these are slivered almonds, tossed with vanilla sugar and Grand Marnier, and toasted. When cool, they are tossed with orange zest, and lightly coated with milk chocolate. These are probably my favorites of the three.
While these are relatively simple to make, they are tasty, elegant, and very flexible. Any of these can be made with dark, milk, or white chocolate. The rochers can use just about any nut, flavored in whatever way you like. The mendiants can use just about any combination of dried fruits, nuts, candied peels, or seeds that works for you. The bark, too can be made with just about any combination you find appealing.
If you experiment, come back and tell us what you did. I'd love to hear what creative combinations you come up with.
All recipes courtesy of Chef James Foran.
Chocolate Bark8 oz. by wt. tempered dark chocolate
¾ cup crisp rice cereal
½ cup chopped roasted hazelnuts
¼ cup raisins, chopped
pinch sea salt
In a bowl, thoroughly mix together rice cereal, nuts, raisins, and salt. Pour tempered chocolate over mixture. Toss well, so that everything gets covered in chocolate. Working quickly, place between two sheets of acetate, and carefully roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. Allow to cool and set completely before removing acetate. Break into pieces.
6 0z. by wt. tempered dark chocolate
30 cashew halves30 pistachios
30 slivers of dried apricot
30 dried cherries
On a parchment lined baking sheet, pipe rounds of chocolate about the size of a silver dollar. Quickly place one of each nut and fruit in each round. Use the same pattern for each mendiant. You want part of the nut or fruit to be visible. Allow to set completely.
Makes 20 - 25 candies.
5.7 oz. Slivered almonds2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier
1 Tbsp. vanilla sugar
4 oz. tempered milk chocolate
zest of 1/3 orange
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
In a bowl, toss together almonds, liqueur, sugar, and salt. Spread out on a silicon mat lined baking sheet. Bake, tossing every 3 minutes, for 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
Spread on another baking sheet, let cool to room temperature.
Toss almonds with zest. Add chocolate, toss to coat completely. Spoon into miniature paper cups. Allow to set completely.
Makes about 15 candies.