Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A little holiday (chocolate) cheer

I had some food photos and recipes to post, but this week has been a blur. Like many people the Sandy Hook Tragedy has been on my mind all week. Working at a K-8  school definitely made it all more real and horrifying to imagine for me. My school did a good job of putting in the safety and emotional supports needed for teachers and students this week. I was also home sick most of this week with gross bronchitis, cold, and fever.

So, with that being said, I haven't done much cooking this week. But I've been antsy sitting around the house, especially since I love being out at this time of the year.  I did a little project today to get some holiday spirit in my week, and make a little treat for teachers after a long semester (and week). My after school program shares space with lots of teachers, so I like to make little holiday gift thank yous instead of buying random crap that ends up being overpriced.

Growing up my mom always went a little overboard with the gifts she gave my sister and my teachers at the holidays. She would make homemade breads, candy, lemon squares and more. I remember her always being up till 2am the night before putting it together. She was/is definitely hard core.

I'm not quite as hardcore. At all. But, I did take some inspiration from the "bark" she would make our teachers. It's festive, pretty, cheap, and easy.  The great thing about this is that you can use your chocolate of choice and any combo of toppings: peppermint, chopped nuts, caramel, cookie crumbles, pretzels, graham crackers, orange zest. Basically whatever!

To keep it simple and cheap I did toasted coconut and dried cranberries. I would usually also do pistachios to add some festive color, but I was worried about nut allergies at school.  My mom always did white chocolate with cranberries and pistachios.

Chocolate Holiday Bark:

1 lb chocolate of your choice ( I got the big 1 lb milk chocolate bar at TJs, but you could do any dark chocolate for dairy free)
1/4 cup of each topping

1. Grease a baking pan (I use a 9 by 12 inch)
2. Put parchment paper over greased baking pan.
3. In a double boiler(or with a heatproof pan over simmering water pot) melt chocolate.
4. As soon as all chocolate is melted, pour evenly across baking pan.
5. Use a baking spatula to spread evenly (but doesn't have to be perfectly even, and can be pretty thin, like 1/4 inch thick)
6. Sprinkle toppings evenly across hot chocolate (I then press the toppings lightly into the chocolate with the back of the spatula to make sure it is stuck in the chocolate).
7. Place pan in fridge for an hour (or until solid)
8. Break sheet of chocolate into pieces. They don't need to be even but can be the size of your liking.
9. Put in bag and tie with ribbon!( I like to string on a tag with the ingredients as well)


Holiday Partay in a bag!
I'll be in NYC and Portland,ME for the next 10 days or so. Hopefully I"ll kick this cold(knock on wood) before I leave. Happy Holidays!

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