Prior to meeting and interviewing an expert on chocolate (see Chocolate and the Chocolatier) and again hanging out a a downtown Los Angeles chocolate factory that produces the andSons products, for further research and development of course, I found myself at Surfas Culinary District’s Culver City location taking a candy making class with Chef Aubray Arvig. It was the holiday season. One of the recipes for the class, Chocolate Peppermint Bark. I change it out. I use pop rocks instead of peppermint candies and oil.
When the discussing tempering chocolate there seems to be three attitudes. Easy, hard or “why bother”. I can be bothered. After tasting and viewing the process of experts (I also went to a wholesale chocolate showroom in Culver City later to visit a Chef Valentine), I do understand the “why bother” when you can have extraordinary. Seriously. I do recommend the attempt. Chocolate bark is very easy. Make sure you have a thermometer and great chocolate. Start with Valrhona. I took a sample to one of my work. There were many mistakes. I took the too for feedback. This one, my pop rocks bark, go the stamp of approval. While I am not eating chocolate these days, if you can, you must.
This recipe is a modified recipe from Surfas Culinary Classroom. I will include the original ingredients next to my changes.
Nutella Strawberry POPROCKS
Yeild: 1 pound chocolate bark
6 ounces of Strawberry Pop Rocks (Surfas we used crushed candy canes)
1 pound semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped. I used 61% and 66% Valhrona. 1:1 ratio. (Surfas prefer Manjari 64% which makes is also excellent)
2 Tablespoons of Nutella hazelnut chocolate spread (peppermint version 1/2 teaspoon peppermint or spearmint oil)
Chocolate transfer sheet*, if desired (I used one with stars)
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and top with chocolate transfer sheet, butter the upside.
To temper chocolate, place three-quakers of the chocolate in top of the double broiler over barely simmering water. Check to make sure water doesn’t touch the top of the double broiler and no water drips in to the bowl of chocolate. A double broiler is also know as a bain-marie. It is a heat safe bowl placed over a pot of waterloo temper the chocolate.
Using a chocolate or candy thermometer, check the temperature of the chocolate. It should be about 131 to 136-degrees F. Heat briefly until desired temperature is reached. Add the remaining chocolate and stir constantly until it is completely melted and smooth and the chocolate drops to a temperature just below 82 to 84 degrees-F. Next, very slowly heat the chocolate, bringing the temperature of the chocolate back up to 88 to 90-F. Remove from the heat and stir in the Nutella and POP ROCKS mixture (or peppermint or spearmint oil should you have gone that way). The chocolate is now tempered and ready to spread.
Working quickly add using and offset spatula, spread the chocolate in an even layer about 1/4 inch thick on the parchment/trasfer sheet. Evenly, and artfully scatter more POP ROCKS (or crushed candy canes) over the chocolate so it sets into and adheres to the chocolate.
Set the bark aside in a cool, dry spot to set and harden, about 1 hour. Break into irregular pieces.
Tips: This recipe is also great with pistachios, roasted hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries or cranberries, finely chopped crystalized ginger, or even crushed peppermint patties. Experiment and enjoy!
Storing: Store in a tightly covered tin lined with parchment paper. The chocolate bark will last for up to 3 weeks.
Gift-Giving Tips: Wrap the chocolate bark in gift boxes or airtight tins lined with decorative waxed paper or parchment paper. Alternatively, arrange the bark in cellophane bags and tie with a ribbon.
Until Next Time…
some photos from my kitchen and the wholesale chocolate factory in Culver City and some from DTLA and Sons here. Links to the DTLA andSons and chocolate interview in the above opening.