Dark Chocolate and Pomegranate Bark

Servings: 8 – Approximately 3/4 lb
Preheat: 0
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Source: Melissa Clark , NYT

Quick, festive and fabulous

Ingredients: 

140 grams bittersweet chocolate (5 ounces)
20 grams crystallized ginger (2 tablespoons)
140 grams fresh pomegranate seeds (1cup)
6 grams flaky sea salt (1teaspoon)

Directions: 

1. Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler….Sit the chocolate until fully melted. Remove the bowl that contains the melted chocolate from the double-boiler and stir in the crystallized ginger and half of the pomegranate seeds.

2. Use a small baking sheet (toaster oven size) and line it with parchment paper. Pour the melted chocolate onto the sheet. Use a spatula to smooth the chocolate into one even layer about 1/4 inch thick (it does not need to fill the entire sheet). Sprinkle the chocolate with the remaining pomegranate seeds and sea salt.

3. Chill the chocolate bark for at least 30 minutes or until firm. Break or cut into small pieces. Store in an airtight container. Serve the same day because condensation may occur.

Kahlúa Fudge Bites

Servings: —
Preheat: 325°
Cook Time: 30 min
Source: Fine Cooking 68, pp. 65
recipeNotes: I don’t frost these brownies
These are very chocolatey and rich, which is why I like
to cut them into smaller, bite-size squares.

Ingredients
9 oz (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
3/4 lb (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter; more for the pan
3 oz (1 cup) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch- processed)
3 cup very firmly packed light brown sugar
4 lg eggs
2 Tbsp coffee-flavored liqueur (I use Kahlúa) or 1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 Tbs. light corn syrup

Directions
Tip: For the best results, measure your flour by weight instead of volume. (1 cup of all-purpose flour equals 4-1/2 oz.) If you don’t have a scale, be sure to use the proper technique when filling your measuring cups

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 325° F. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt to blend. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Whisk in the brown sugar until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until just blended. Whisk in the coffee liqueur along with the last egg. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few small, moist clumps sticking to it, about 30 minutes. (Don’t over bake, or the squares won’t be Fudgy.) Transfer the pan to a rack to let cool completely.

Make the chocolate glaze:

In a medium bowl, melt the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a microwave or over barely simmering water, whisking until smooth. Pour the glaze onto the center of the cooled, uncut fudge bars. Using an offset spatula, spread the glaze evenly to cover completely. Refrigerate until the glaze is set, about 30 minutes. Cut into 1-inch squares.

Caramel Popcorn

Servings: 4 Quarts
Source: Fine Cooking 68, pp. 49
At Craft restaurant in Manhattan, where I work as the pastry chef, I like to send out a small bowl of caramel popcorn as a parting gift to guests. I prefer yellow popcorn; it seems to yield the biggest popped kernels.

Ingredients
Nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil
3 Tbsp vegetable oil, such as peanut or canola
1/2 cup popcorn kernels, preferably yellow kernels
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
3 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
1-1/2 oz (3 Tbs.) cold
unsalted butter, cut into sm pieces

Variations
Spicy: Stir 3/4 tsp cayenne into the baking soda and add to the caramel as directed.
Nutty: Toss 2 cup lightly salted peanuts with the popcorn before pouring on the hot caramel.

Directions
Pop the popcorn: Spray two large heatproof rubber spatulas and a very large metal bowl (at least twice the volume of the popped popcorn) with nonstick cooking spray, or lightly wipe with vegetable oil. Heat the oil in an 8-quart or larger heavy-based stockpot over high heat. After a minute, put a popcorn kernel in the pot and cover. When the kernel pops, the oil is hot enough. Add the rest of the popcorn kernels. Cover the pot and shake it back and forth over the heat to agitate the kernels. Keep moving the pot as the popcorn pops. Remove the pot from the heat when the popping slows almost to a stop (it’s better to have a few unpopped kernels than burnt popcorn) and immediately pour the popped corn into the large metal bowl. Search through the popcorn, removing any unpopped kernels (which fall to the bottom of the bowl) or burnt pieces.

Make the caramel: Measure the baking soda into a small dish so it’s ready to go. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment, foil, or nonstick silicone mats. In a 4-quart or larger saucepan, combine the sugar, salt, butter, and 1 cup water. Gently stir with a wooden or metal spoon just enough to immerse the sugar. Brush down the sides of the pot with water and a clean pastry brush. Cook the sugar mixture over high heat without stirring until it melts and bubbles and turns a very light golden caramel color on top; this will take 10 to 20 minutes, depending on your stove. The caramel will be darker than it appears on the surface, so don’t overcook. At this point, remove the pot from the heat.

Working quickly off the heat, thoroughly whisk the baking soda into the caramel. Do this in or near the sink in case it spills over. The baking soda aerates the caramel, which makes it easier to eat when it’s cool, but causes it to bubble vigorously now, so be careful. Immediately pour the bubbling caramel over the popcorn in the bowl. Only use the caramel that pours out easily; don’t scrape the sides of the pot (the sugar on the sides of the pot crystallizes easily and can cause the caramel to do the same).

Using the heatproof spatulas, toss the caramel with the popcorn. When the popcorn is thoroughly coated, pour it onto the lined baking sheets and use the spatulas to pat it into one flat layer. As soon as it’s cool enough to touch, use your hands to break the layer into smaller clusters. Let them cool completely and then store in an airtight container for up to a week.