I knew that would get your attention!  Like we haven’t had enough over the holidays.   But it is almost the end of January, a little under 2 months and spring is here – on the calendar at least! I know I haven’t posted a blog in a while so I thought I’d better get back to it. Had a great start to the year, a number of family birthday celebrations to start the year – not the least of which was my dad’s 94th, and more to come. We finally put the Christmas decorations away, I’ve been extremely busy with public and private engagements, so why not throw something else in the mix. I’m taking a course at George Brown on chocolate and couldn’t resist blogging about it. A wonderful pastry Chef teaches it. Made a delicious Chocolate cake with ganache week 1, and these delightfully easy – yet technical – if you want the proper look, treats last week.

I say technical because it involves crystallization. The new word for tempering, because it is more than just tempering. The heat has to go up to 45C, then you bring it down slowly to about 32C through a process called seeding or on a cold marble slab, to get the perfect gloss on your finished product. It sounds simple, and really it is straightforward, but you can only get good at it through practice – oh the chocolate my wife will have to eat! For chocolate lovers, and Chef’s who want to expand their repertoire, this course is a great introduction. We used Lindt Dark Couverture to make this Rocher (think ramped up Ferrero Rocher). This recipe is a keeper and you will make this again and again. It doesn’t take long and makes excellent gifts – hey, Valentine’s day is coming up. Surprise someone! So here goes. As always – enjoy! This makes about a 9 x 11 slab depending on how thin you make it. This recipe can easily be halved. NOTE: I’m simplifying this technique. I am not going to make a chocolatier out of anyone via my blog. I leave that to the experts at the cooking schools. But, thought it was important you knew of this process. It helps with the look/feel of the finished product, it isn’t a critical step for the home cook.

250g whole natural almonds
15ml Triple Sec
20g Sugar
200g Dried Cranberries
500g Dark Chocolate – Lindt couverture

Pre-heat the oven to 350F
Mix the almonds with the triple sec and sugar
Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet – about 10 minutes until the almonds are caremelized, cool – remember ovens vary in temperature etc, so please check at 8 minutes, then judge how much longer accordingly – let oool
Mix the toasted almonds with the cranberries
Melt all but a handful of the chocolate over a double boiler – to pre-crystallize this chocolate, get the temperature to 45C only, remove from the heat and start cooling down to 32C – add the remaining chocolate pieces one at a time and stir until the temperature gets to 32C
Add the nut mixture to the chocolate and stir to coat
Spread on a parchment lined baking tray and let cool
Cut with a knife or break into chards

Chocolate Bark3b

Chocolate Bark5a