[Sometimes, you just want a dish that's quick and easy--no fuss. I've decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly or else is so simple to make that no recipe is required. Here's today's "Flash in the Pan." (For other FitP recipes, see "Categories" at right).]
I had actually been thinking of a completely different post for today, but then this happened. (And seriously, how could I not share?)
I often tell the story of how, when we were in our twenties, my friend Gemini I announced one day that she was going to quit smoking (at the time, most of my friends and I were smokers).
“I am never going to smoke another cigarette again for as long as I live,” she proclaimed.
I was aghast. Completely incredulous, I asked, “But how can you be so sure?” Shaking my head, I persisted, “I mean, what if you have a craving? What if someone offers you a cigarette at a party? What if you really want one?”
Of course, it wasn’t the thought of giving up cigarettes that truly bothered me (I knew I could stop smoking at any time; and shortly thereafter, I did). No, when I imagined myself in that situation, I was thinking “chocolate” instead of “cigarette.” I knew that for me, life without chocolate was simply unthinkable.
Then, candida happened.
No more Caramilk while watching my soap opera (and for that matter, no more soap opera). No more milk chocolate chips in my chocolate chip cookies. No more Hershey kisses. No more Wunderbars split with the HH. Not even any more Godiva truffles for Valentine’s Day.
Well, these days, I can say with certainty that I will never eat another piece of conventional (dairy-full, sugar-laden) chocolate again for as long as I live. Luckily, the ACD doesn’t veto raw cacao, unsweetened chocolate or cocoa powder (at least, not in the later stages).
This recipe is the result of the ultimate collision of serendipity, synergy and synchronicity (or any other fancy “s” words you can think of). I struck on the recipe totally by chance, as a result of having the disparate components on hand and deciding to combine them, just for the heck of it. The final product, I daresay, outshines any one of the ingredients on its own.
So, you know how when you bake cookies, sometimes they don’t all turn out perfectly? You’re prepping a batch to bring to that office cookie swap, say, or to bring to a potluck at your BFF’s house, or maybe for your daughter’s birthday party at home. And you end up with a few of those slightly distorted, slightly-too-large, or oval-instead-of-round, or raggedy-on-the-edges, or not-enough-chocolate-chips duds that you don’t want to serve to anyone, but you also don’t want to eat all on your own, either? Or maybe you’re making shortbread and a few cookies crack down the middle, or shatter into pieces when you remove them from the cookie sheet.
Well, what to do with those extra bits and pieces that just don’t seem to fit anywhere else? Here’s what: you put them in a ziploc bag in the freezer and save them for this chocolate bark.
After I made my glorious Chocolate Chestnut Mousse Tarts, I found myself with a few remnants of broken tart shells that hadn’t made it out of the pans in one piece. I decided to save them in the freezer, thinking I’d use them later as cookie crumbs or folded into ice cream. Instead, I had the notion to enrobe them, rather than nuts, in chocolate for homemade chocolate bark.
Oh, my goodness. Oh. My. Goodness. Oh. MY. GOODNESS. Holy yum! HOLY. YUM. I say, yes! (yes! yes! yes!). Seriously, this stuff is worthy of a scene in When Harry Met Sally. (“I’ll have what. . . I’m having.”).
And it’s so easy! The bark is ready in about 15 minutes, and contains only five ingredients (if you don’t count salt). I made the first batch with leftover shortbread crust, and the second (on the right in the photos) with the Sugar-Free Sugar Cookies from Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free. Both were spectacular.
Give up chocolate? Thankfully, there’s no need. And when it’s made with raw cacao and sugar-free to boot, you can indulge happily. In fact, I think I’ll bake another batch of shortbread just so I can make this bark again. Then, I’ll invite Gemini I over and we can eat a bunch of it together, non-smoking style.
Chocolate Cookie Bark
This fabulous confection is not only delicious AND good for you, it’s also incredibly adaptable. Feel free to use any leftover cookies you have on hand, or combine cookies with toasted nuts, seeds, or dried fruit. The possibilities really are endless.
1/3 cup ( g) raw cacao powder (you can use cocoa, but the result will be more bitter)*
1 tsp (5 ml) raw vanilla powder, or 1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt
3 Tbsp (45 ml) extra virgin coconut oil, preferably organic
1 ounce (28 g) raw cacao butter, grated for easier melting
Line a square plastic container (about 6×6 inches or 15 x 15 cm) with plastic wrap or parchment paper and set aside.
If using coconut sugar, place it in a coffee grinder, spice grinder, or high-powered blender and process until finely powdered. Add it to a medium bowl along with the cacao powder, vanilla powder, powdered stevia and salt; mix well.
Fill a small pot with water about 1 inch (2.5 cm) high and bring to a boil; lower heat to simmer. Place the coconut oil and cacao butter in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl over the pot (the bowl should be large enough so that the bottom doesn’t touch the water in the pot). Stir constantly until everything is melted. Remove from heat.
Add the oils to the dry ingredients (except for the cookie pieces) and whisk until smooth. Taste and adjust sweetness if necessary. Add the cookie pieces and gently fold them into the chocolate until completely coated. Pour the mixture into the container, spreading out the cookies evenly. Make sure all the cookies are coated with chocolate. Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
Once firm, remove the chocolate from the container and break into irregular pieces. Store refrigerated until ready to eat. Makes 6 servings.
* Note for ACD Stage 2: if you find that the cacao causes cravings, you can diminish the amount by using half carob powder and half cacao powder instead. This also helps to decrease any bitterness if you are using stevia as the only sweetener.
Suitable for: ACD Stage 2 and beyond (if made with all-stevia; otherwise, Stage 3 and beyond), sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut free, vegan.
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