Monday, July 22, 2013

White Chocolate Bark and an Ina obsession

There are a few things I wish I knew how to do. Swimming tops the list and guitar is a close second. But if there's one thing I'm excellent at, it's knowing how to spend a perfectly sunny day indoors watching Food Network. Which means I'm either fantasizing about being besties with Ina Garten on a daily basis and dreaming of cooking up a classy storm in her Hamptons kitchen, OR I'm drooling. Or both!

She's the dinner party queen and if someone doesn't give her a crown, I will find a way to do so. In a recent episode, she hosted a party for her very very lucky friends (who I envy, also on a daily basis) and made candy for dessert. Candy with a side of coffee...only Ina could pull that off with so much ease and splendor. Not just ordinary Jolly Ranchers, though. But chewy homemade caramels and white chocolate bark studded with nuts and dried apricots. I didn't even finish watching.

I dug right into my pantry and pulled out a bag of white chocolate chips, dried cranberries, pistachios, cashews and a few other miscellaneous toppings I grabbed out of excitement but didn't use.

Melting chocolate is a form of therapy for me. I tend to stir and sway away to someplace not here and watch the chocolate transform into a smooth, glossy puddle of magic. Just a pot of simmering water, a bowl of chocolate nesting on top and a spoon. Also will power. You should note, however, since white chocolate has a lower burning point, it's more susceptible to scorching and getting clumpy if melted on too high a heat...just be careful and be sure the water in the pot doesn't touch the "butt" of the white chocolate bowl. : )

As soon as it melts, I took it off the heat and stirred it gently to temper it a bit. I then poured the white chocolate directly onto some parchment paper (wax paper will do!) and spread it out with a straight edge spatula. It's sOoO HARD to keep your finger away.

Lift it off the parchment and crrrrrrack! It's a glorious moment.

This works just as beautifully with milk or semisweet chocolate. You can top milk chocolate with Oreo pieces or almonds...coconut or peanuts, sea salt and caramel, crushed pretzels and M&M's...ANYTHING! Whenever you need some chocolate to munch on, look no further than this. It's a blessing and a curse, to be honest.

You'll need: 

1 cup white chocolate chips, or bar. (Lindt chocolate works wonders)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup any other kind of nut, really

Fill the bottom pan of a double boiler with water and place it on the stove over medium-high heat. Turn the heat down to low once the water is boiling. Place the white chocolate into the top saucepan of the double boiler once the water begins simmering gently. Make sure the bottom of the chocolate saucepan is not touching the water.

Watch the chocolate and stir it frequently with a wooden spoon. Do not leave the double boiler unattended! Remove the double boiler from the heat as soon as the white chocolate is smooth.

Pour the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper (on a tray) and spread it lightly to a pleasant enough shape. Sprinkle the top evenly with the cranberries, pistachios and whatever else you like. Set aside for at least 2 hours until firm, or refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or freeze for a few. In other words, do what you gotta do to make sure it’s set perfectly enough to crack into shards of beautiful, yummy bark! (I froze mine for an hour, and then served it at room temperature)

Ohhh Ina. You slay me in half.

 Until next time! X