I recently attended an excellent “Vegan Chocolate Cooking” demonstration by Leslie Thomas, aka “The Accidental Chef” in my “new” hometown of Santa Barbara, Ca. This took place at a nearby (and everything is) new showplace called the SB Public Market. The concept is a indoor mall (small scale) of about 20 booths offering gourmet quality foods. They also have installed a state of the art brilliantly shiny, brand new stainless steel commissary kitchen that is available for rental purposes for parties or food demonstrations. I was lucky enough to attend this fine class which was free to the public.
SBPM features individually owned and operated cafe-type counters filled with an incredible variety of specialty items. Some examples of those treats offered are: Organic cold-pressed naturally flavored all native (Californian grown) olive oils and vinegars, homemade exotic pastas, a real bakery with incredible thick crusted homestyle vegan Rye bread, and tiny vegan sweeties called “cinnies” that come in about 8 different flavors to further tantalize your taste buds.
Each time i go there, i come home with a wide assortment of wholesome goodies that are both fresh and innovative. The concept of a one stop shopping experience is a convenient way to purchase many different items using only one parking space and less time. Of course, there are also many foods that i just pass by as they don’t fit into my definition of ethical products and are created sadly enough via the suffering of sentient beings.
One of the real treats in life that i do consume, albeit in small quantities, is CHOCOLATE. Knowing full well that chocolate, bananas and coffee are three of the “third world” products that we Westerners enjoy at the probable exploitation of the working classes in poorer nations, i still allow some of those items into my home. Trying to personally dispel the “holier than thou” attitude, i realize that nothing is truly perfect including our appetites and individual cut off points, as i am humbled by my own greedy preferences.
With that caveat in mind, i offer to those who are similarly tempted by homemade chocolate bark, a recipe that can be used as a special treat for notable occasions.
Chocolate Bark with a Bite
2 bars = about 7 oz. good quality organic 70-72% (cacao) very dark chocolate. Note: the bark should be broken up into several pieces to allow it to fully melt in the double boiler. There are several vegan brands on the market of which many are fair trade and from small farms. Chose this product consciously.
3 tbsp. candied ginger pieces( a little sharp in flavor hence the “BITE” in the title) cut into tiny pieces
2 tbsp. unsweetened or flavored shredded coconut, cut into smaller strips if large
1/3 cup macadamia nuts, cut into quarters
- Line a 8”x8” baking dish with parchment or wax paper extending at least 1” up the sides. Crease edges and corners well to create a smooth bottom for the chocolate layer.
- Melt chocolate pieces in a double boiler slowly over low heat. Caution: do not allow any water into the top pan or to touch the chocolate. Stir until fully and completely melted.
- When fully melted, quickly pour and spread evenly in glass pan on the parchment paper. It should coat the entire bottom and be about 1/8”
- Now quickly scatter a thin layer of coconut shreds on top and then the small ginger and nut pieces evenly on the chocolate base. Make sure all ingredients are distributed well and no gaps are seen. Fill in with more toppings if needed.
- Transfer the dish to the freezer uncovered for at least 45 min. until firmly set.
- Once set, use a sharp knife or cold clean hands to break apart the bark into roughly shaped small pieces and serve some on your BEST plate. Should be at least 12 pieces.
- Cover and refrigerate any leftovers (HAH!) in a plastic or glass container. This freezes well too! Serve slightly chilled. Note: the chocolate will start to melt quickly at room temp. when served.
What i like about this general recipe is that you can be creative to include any combination of topping ingredients on hand. For example: add tiny vegan chocolate chips, currants, chopped pecans, roasted cashews or cut pieces of almonds or walnuts, cut up dates or fig pieces, or mint candies, etc. Use your imagination and the combinations and proportions are up to you! Have fun…
This is a high fat, high caloric treat which also packs a sizable carbohydrate load so care as to the amount and frequency of consumption should be considered. At a holiday or significant joyous occasion, this treat can be a PARTY HARDY show stopper!