Orange Chocolate Bar(k) with Hazelnuts and Cherries

Have I got something delicious to share today!  Is it a giant cookie sheet-sized chocolate bar?  Or is it chunks of chocolate bark-like candy?  It certainly could be whichever you most fancy, but either way, it makes for a satisfying sweet snack.

chocolate candy pieces 3

I’ve been wanting to make something along these lines for a while and I just kept getting distracted with elaborate recipes to try or old favorites that lure me back to them.  Something this simple just kept getting pushed to the wayside.  It had to happen that way, I guess, but I am a bit sad for it.  I am sad, in fact, for the time I wasted not knowing how wonderful this would turn out to be!

I do realize that some people out there don’t like chocolate.  I understand this to be true, but I will not pretend to understand how it is true.  Chocolate never fails to please me.  I am careful about how much of it I eat, so I don’t get myself too hopped up on sugar, but the nice thing about this is that I find a small portion of really good chocolate will totally satiate my sweet tooth, leaving me content and not yearning for seconds and thirds.   Hooray for reasonably satisfied cravings!

ingredients for chocolate candy

The recipe you see below is delicious, but it is also easily adaptable to your preferences.  If you favor a different type of fruit and/or nut, those tastes could be accommodated with simple substitutions.  Other add-ins I plan to try include: mint extract, quinoa and/or rice puffs, pretzel sticks, dried blueberries, and espresso beans.  The possibilities are wonderfully endless!

Plus, given that this is candy that YOU make yourself, it’s candy that you can make to be as real and natural as YOU like – no artificial or processed ingredients need be present in this chocolate bar(k).  That is candy worth getting excited about!  A further note about this – you can obviously use whatever chocolate you prefer.  I used Enjoy Life Mega Chunks because I’m a big fan of Enjoy Life products.  These mega chunks are vegan and non-GMO verified, made from simple, pure ingredients.  This is my personal opinion and not given under any type of prompting from the company – I’m quite certain they have no idea who I am!  They also make other tasty items, like Plentils (YUUUMMM) that are suitable to vegans and those who eat gluten-free.

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Orange Chocolate Bar(k) with Hazelnuts and Cherries  hazelnuts 2

 

Ingredients:

10 oz chocolate chips/chunks or chopped chocolate bars of your choice (I used Enjoy Life Mega Chunks)

The zest of one medium orange

2 oz raw hazelnuts, chopped

1/3 cup dried unsweetened cherries, chopped small

Directions:

  1. Prepare a cookie sheet by covering it with a piece of wax paper.  Set aside.
  2. Place a metal bowl over a pot filled with about 1-inch of water (or use a double boiler if you have one).  Pour chocolate into bowl and turn on heat to medium. Stir chocolate frequently as it starts to melt over the heat, being careful to keep heat moderate and chocolate moving so as not to burn.
  3. As chocolate begins to melt, pour in the orange zest and mix well to incorporate.  Continue stirring until chocolate is completely melted.  Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in half of the chopped nuts and half of the chopped cherries.  Mix well.
  5. Pour chocolate onto the prepared cookie sheet.  Use a spoon or spatula to spread chocolate out evenly over the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle remaining nuts and cherries over the top of the chocolate.
  6. Place uncovered in the refrigerator for approximately 2 hours, or until the chocolate is set.  Cut into bars or break into chunks as desired.  Chocolate can be stored for several days in an airtight container in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

 

Recipe: Cherry Almond Chocolate Snacking Cakes

Sometimes only chocolate will do.  I actually don’t bake chocolate items all that often, but some days . . . it absolutely must be done.  Last weekend was such a case.

I wanted chocolate cake.  But I didn’t want a giant, frosted chocolate cake.  I wanted something smaller, something that I could pull apart with my hands as I ate it.  Perhaps a bit denser then a layer cake, but still soft and spongy.

I also wanted add-ins.  I was imagining some sort of treat baked into the chocolate batter, something that would compliment the chocolate flavor without taking it over.  I was inspired!  But I needed a basic recipe to start with.

Enter one of my most trusted food blogs.  Smitten Kitchen has yet to lead me astray.  Everything I have made from this fantastic site has been tasty and satisfying.  So when I was able to find this recipe for Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes (originally from David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life in Paris), I knew I had my starting point.

I made several adaptations to the recipe in order to create the kind of cakes I particularly wanted and they came out wonderfully.  I love the texture of these snacking cakes, as well as the versatility.  They feel appropriate for just about any time of day – perfect for a sweet treat at breakfast, a snack throughout the day, or a light post-dinner dessert.

Adding the dried cherries really did add something special to the flavor of these, I think.  I used a moderate amount so they didn’t overwhelm the other components, leaving chocolate as the stand out ingredient.  The flavor, though, that the cherries contributed was lovely.  The combination of the almond oil and almond extract also imparted a deeper flavor to the cakes, though if you’re not a fan of almond flavor, you could easily substitute a different oil and omit the extract. I’m actually curious how orange extract would be in these, in place of the almond.  I may have to test that out soon!

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Cherry Almond Chocolate Snacking Cakes

Makes 12 cakes

 

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate (baking squares or chips will work)
  • ¼ cup almond oil
  • ¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • ½ cup plain yogurt (I used non-fat Greek)
  • 1 cup sugar (I used turbinado)
  • 3 tblspns egg replacer, combined with 9 tblspns water (or 3 large eggs if you prefer)
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • ½ tspn almond extract
  • 100 grams whole wheat pastry flour
  • 100 grams spelt flour
  • 1 ½ tspns baking powder
  • ½ tspn course salt
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat muffin pans with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg replacer with water (or eggs) until just combined.  Add applesauce, yogurt, sugar, vanilla and almond extract.  Stir until well combined.
  4. Chop the dried cherries into small pieces.
  5. Melt your chocolate with the almond oil.  You can do this in a heatproof bowl over lightly boiling water on the stove, or in the microwave (as I did).  Combine the chocolate and oil in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds.  Stir.  Heat for 20 more seconds.  Stir again.  Repeat until the chocolate is completely melted and combined with the oil.
  6. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture.  Pour in the yogurt mixture and stir together until just combined.  Then, pour in the melted chocolate and continue to stir until all the dry ingredients are well incorporated.  Finally, fold in the chopped dried cherries so that they are distributed throughout the batter.
  7. Spoon batter into muffin cups (about ¼ cup batter in each cup).  Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  8. Let stand for 5 minutes in the tins, then remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.

*Notes:

– You could certainly use other flours in these.  I particularly liked the combination of the whole wheat pastry flour, which I think contributed to a lighter texture, with the spelt flour, which complimented to the nutty undertones of flavor.

– Add toppings if you like.  A dusting of powdered sugar, a glaze, or a ganache would be lovely.  I just wasn’t in the mood!