Valentine’s day is all about offering gifts of love and appreciation to those who make your life just that bit more enjoyable. This year I am embracing the wise words of Cesar Chavez: “the people who give you their food give you their heart.” With that quote in mind, I stumbled upon my perfect homemade gift idea.
Chocolate is a very traditional gift of love, but instead of buying your Valentine another box of chocolates why not make a chocolate bar with all their favourite flavours. Chocolate bark is ridiculously easy to make, it looks really impressive and takes no time at all. What really makes it special however is the personal creativity that goes into it. The possibilities are endless with this labour of love! I’ve suggested toppings of dried cranberries and pistachios but you can use almost anything. Why not take inspiration from your Valentine’s favourite flavours?
Makes 1 large tablet, approximately 30cm x 15cm
Tip: Think outside the box with chocolate bark. Maybe next time try another one of my favourite combinations: dark chocolate, candied ginger, toasted nuts and coconut. Don’t forget that chocolate needs tender loving care too.
- Line a square baking tray with parchment paper.
- Add the dark chocolate to a heat resistant glass bowl and place over a small saucepan of simmering water. Chocolate should be melted slowly and gently so keep an eye on the heat and adjust accordingly. As the chocolate begins to melt move it around making sure it does not burn.
- Once melted, pour the chocolate into the prepared tray.
- Spread the chocolate as evenly as you can with a spatula. I prefer thin chocolate bark but the thickness is down to personal preference.
- In another heat resistant glass bowl repeat the melting process, this time with white chocolate. Be aware that white chocolate is notoriously difficult to melt due to its high fat content. I use the bain-marie technique of using a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, but many prefer using the microwave. Either way, the key is slow and steady. If you do start to notice lumps forming, quickly remove the bowl from its heat source and add a teaspoon of butter, mixing it in rapidly to re-emulsify.
- Pour the melted white chocolate onto the dark chocolate. With the tip of a toothpick or cocktail stick blend the two chocolates to create swirling patterns.
- When you are happy with the design scatter over the toppings, in this case dried cranberries and chopped pistachios. Gently press them into the chocolate and place in the fridge for 30 to 40 minutes, or until set.
- Give the whole tablet as a gift or break it into angular pieces and wrap in tissue paper or acetate. Finish with a ribbon and a little handwritten label.