Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Rocky Road Bark


If I share something with you, promise you won't abandon our love of good food friendship? You promised, right? Okay, well here it is. I haven't yet jumped on the current sheet pan dinner bandwagon. The one-pot, or rather one-pan wonders that are all the rage right now. I am neither one of the early adopters, nor one of the fast followers. This sheet pan craze has been around for at least four years. Maybe even longer. Which means I seem to be getting dangerously close to falling into the (gasp) laggard (aka embarrassing late to the party) category. It's not that I haven't been paying attention. I have been. And it's not that I have any aversions to convenience. I don't. The only savory thing my sheet pans have been making lately is Roasted Bacon. Which could be loosely described as a sheet pan side dish. Right? Truth be told, my sheet pans have been otherwise occupied lately. Not permanently. Just temporarily.


This Rocky Road Bark is it's own one pan miracle. Getting a text from your niece telling you it's the best thing she has ever eaten is yet another kind of marvel.

What is not to love about dark chocolate, roasted almonds, soft pillowy marshmallows, graham crackers, and a sprinkle of sea salt? Nothing. This variation of a Rocky Road Bark has the best of all textures.


Always use a good quality chocolate, one designed for melting. Sometimes I use the chocolate from a local confectionary, but this time I used the Ghiradelli dark chocolate. It would be equally delicious made with milk chocolate.


I know I will sound will like a broken record when I say 'always roast your nuts' before using them in your baked goods or confections. Roasting deepens their flavor and will take most anything from good to great.


I used a large (12"x18") sheet pan to make this Rocky Road Bark. If you halve the ingredients, it can easily be made in a half-sheet pan. The bark is simply a layered bar. The bottom layer is half of the melted chocolate; the second layer is made up of some of the graham cracker pieces, marshmallows and roasted almonds; the third layer is the other half of the melted chocolate; and the final layer made up of the remaining graham cracker pieces, marshmallows and roasted almonds. A sprinkling of sea salt and drizzling of any remaining chocolate are the finishing touches.


The Rocky Road will set up in less than an hour. But unless you are in a hurry to cut it up (and you probably should be), you can let it sit for several hours before cutting into bars or odd-shaped pieces. This is a use a knife versus your hands cutting kind of bark.


Many think of making a bark only around the holidays as they make great gifts and give a cookie platter more dimension. However, bark is something we should be making year-round. And like those one pan sheet pan dinners, you can decide your ingredients. Don't like almonds, use peanuts instead. Want to make a gluten-free bark? Eliminate the graham crackers. Like a bark with a little more sweetness, add some raisins (kind of like a Chunky but with marshmallows bark). The possibilities are endless. And like the early flowers of spring, this bark won't last long.

Recipe
Rocky Road Bark

Ingredients
1 3/4 - 2 pounds of dark or milk chocolate, melted and divided
1 2/3 cups miniature marshmallows (divided)
3/4 cup whole almonds, roasted and coarsely chopped and divided
7-8 whole graham crackers, broken into pieces and divided  (I used almost one package of the rectangular shaped Nabisco Graham Crackers)
Sea salt 

Directions
1. Line a large (12"x18") baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Melt chocolate in a double boiler (or carefully secure and position a bowl over the top of the pot of simmering water).
3. Pour half of the melted chocolate on the prepared pan. Spread with an offset spatula.
4. Using 3/4 of the graham crackers, lay randomly on the top of the melted chocolate. Next sprinkle approximately 2/3 of the marshmallows and roasted almonds on top of the graham crackers.
5. Pour the remaining melted chocolate over the top.
6. Scatter the remaining graham crackers, marshmallows and almonds over the top. If using dark chocolate, lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Using a fork, drizzle any remaining melted chocolate over the top.
7. Allow the bark to set for at least one hour. Using a sharp knife, cut into bars or random shapes. 
8. Serve and/or store in sealed container or tightly tied cellophane bags.


Spring crocus (April 2017)

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