This time of year can be hectic, even for those of us that try to eliminate some of the craziness of the season. Last year, Eric and I took a back to basics kind of approach to the holidays, and what a relief it was to eliminate some of the things I thought were obligations. Fighting insane crowds at the mall was one of them. I’ve always loved giving Christmas gifts, and making them is so much more enjoyable than driving around for 20 minutes trying to find parking and then standing in long lines at the mall. Am I right? Plus, a homemade gift means so much more to me, like someone made it with just me in mind.
You guys know I love giving people food. A gift of food, even something simple, lets someone know you’re thinking of them. Since this season is all about spreading cheer, why not do it with something sweet? I mean, dessert always makes me feel cheerful, and this one is especially drool-worthy. Chocolate, caramel, cashews and flaky salt? Count me in.
Chocolate bark is as easy as it gets when it comes to homemade desserts. Melt chocolate. Add whatever ingredients you want. Chill. Eat. This version is definitely the best one I’ve ever made. Caramel, roasted cashews and flaky sea salt give chocolate bark a fancy makeover. I’ve been sneaking a small bite practically every time I open the refrigerator because it’s just that irresistible. It would be great for sharing, especially packaged up in a cute box or tin, if you can manage to part with it. I meant to share this with neighbors, but it started disappearing before I had the chance. Oops!
This particular combination was inspired by a box of chocolate bark I bought at World Market a few years ago. It was so good that I never forgot about it, and I knew I had to make my own. I didn’t know how caramel would hold up in chocolate bark, but it turns out that it mixes in just fine. The sweetness of the caramel is balanced by the dark chocolate and flaky salt. The cashews give this bark the perfect amount of crunch, and it all combines to create a sweet/salty treat that’s good enough to share…though I won’t tell if you decide to eat it all yourself.
And because I’m always looking for ideas on what to make and give – what’s your favorite holiday treat?
12 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup whole or halved cashews
½ cup caramel sauce, at room temperature
1½ – 2 teaspoons flaky salt
Line an 8 or 9-inch pan with parchment paper, making sure to crease it in the corners. You can use a baking sheet if you prefer your bark thinner, but I like my bark to be thick and decadent.
Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Set atop a small saucepan of simmering water. Cook, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
While the chocolate is melting, toast the cashews in a small skillet set over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, or until fragrant.
Once the chocolate is melted, pour it into the prepared pan. Drop spoonfuls of the caramel all over, swirling with a skewer to mix it in. Sprinkle the cashews over the top, then sprinkle on the salt. Chill until set, then cut or break into pieces.