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Festive fruit & nut chocolate bark

This is a simple, thrifty and tasty way of using up the nuts and dried fruit in your pantry, while making a gift that’s going to satisfy even the fussiest of festive folk. Couverture chocolate is always welcome, of course, but you can also just go to the shops and buy whichever dark chocolate’s on special. Mixed spice makes this a decidedly Christmas-y combination, but you’re welcome to play with the spice too - straight cinnamon instead, some rasps of nutmeg, or you could bypass the spice completely and focus on the fruit and nuts. Tempering the chocolate using the classic method below will give your chocolate its best ‘crack’, but if you’re in a hurry, or would prefer not to faff about with thermometers, just melt all of the chocolate in one fell swoop. Make this as close to when you’re gifting it as possible to avoid the chocolate blooming (the nuts are the culprit!) - the day before should do it. If the chocolate does bloom, it’s still good!
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Ingredients 

  • 380 g dark chocolate 70%
  • ¼ cup dried fruit roughly chopped
  • cup roasted nuts whatever you’ve got!, roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp salt flakes
  • ¼ tsp mixed spice

Instructions 

  • Line a flat tray (20 x 30cm) with baking paper.
  • If the chocolate is still in its packet, whack it against the kitchen bench to break up the chocolate, or if it’s not, coarsely chop up the chocolate and pop a third aside.
  • Fork together the mixed spice and salt in a small bowl to evenly distribute.
  • Either in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave in 30 seconds zaps, or over a double-boiler with a little water in a saucepan and a heat-proof bowl (preferably metal not glass), gently melt the ⅔ of the chocolate.

To temper

  • Place a sugar thermometer in the chocolate and check the temperature - for dark choc you want to reach between 50-55℃. Once reached, remove from the heat and add in the final third of chocolate, stirring together with a flexible spatula to melt in and help bring the temperature down quickly. You want the temperature to get down to 28-29℃. Once at this temperature, pop it back into the microwave for a final 20 second zap, or back over your saucepan bring the heat back up to 32 degrees.

To semi-temper

  • Chop the reserved ⅓ of chocolate into the smaller shards and as soon as ⅔ of the chocolate has melted using your preferred method, tumble in the reserved chocolate and stir in to melt.
  • Pour the melted chocolate onto your lined baking tray and spread out evenly. Sprinkle over nuts and dried fruit, pressing in any chunkier pieces, then the spiced salt. Pop into the fridge until set and then crack into pieces.
  • Transfer into an air-tight container or jars for gifting. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but could be to extend its shelf life.

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