Dark Chocolate Almond Bark – although it was almost Raspberry Cream Chocolates

by on February 11, 2013

almond bark recipe

I suck.

At least I did this weekend. Just when I thought I had my dessert mojo going… splunk.

I was on a chocolate raspberry kick. The chocolate mousse was delicious – which for some reason I’ve recently been saying “delicious” with a Smeagol-like enthusiasm.

I had spied a raspberry cream chocolate candy recipe in the Bon Appetit desserts cookbook and jumped on it like Lexi on Sierra. Raspberry creams are my second favorite See’s candy, just after the Rum Nougats.

Sierra and Lexi-8

How hard could it be? After all, we’ve photographed so many great chocolatiers, Mr. Chocolate  himself – Jacques Torres, a chocolate master from Mexico, the instructors at ICE, and they make it look so easy. We even photographed a candy making cookbook, Sweet Confections by Nina Wanat. Nina made it look effortless.

I know there is quite a bit of skill and experience behind their craft, but it isn’t like I haven’t taken a crack at similar things and have had a bit of success. It’s been a while, but at one point I had worked my way through over half of The Professional Pasty Chef.  However, I should have know I’d be in trouble after I had the “How hard could it be?” thought.

Day 1 started ok. I made the cream fillings, but had a feeling I had cooked them a bit too firm, so made a second batch. “Delicious.” Which was thought again with that wriggling Smeagol-like tone. The creams were intended to wrap around fresh raspberries, so I chilled them and wrapped as instructed. Just as I had guessed the first batch was too firm for that delicate task so I made them into hearts. Cute, huh?

These were my first dips. A little thick and messy. I started loosing the temper after re-warming too hot. Still cute and tasty.

almond bark recipe

The second batch wrapped fine around the raspberries. Now I just needed to chill them overnight and then dip. Money.

Day 2.  Oh for the love of over confidence. Just temper the chocolate, dip, and raspberry creams are mine. Or Diane’s.  After all, Valentine’s is almost here.

In the book we shot for Nina, she taught a great way for tempering chocolate, the “seeding method”. Melt 2/3rds of the chocolate, then remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1/3. Easy peasy.

Let the fail begin. But through no fault but my own and a less than good attitude. I hoped the second batch of creams would be good. They had wrapped around the raspberries ok, but I would only know if they firmed up properly after a full night in the deep freeze.

Um, no. They were firm-ish, but as soon as they were dipped in the chocolate, all was lost. They quickly got soft and sticky, making it almost impossible to gracefully remove from the dipping fork. It began a struggle in disaster.

It didn’t help that my candy thermometer was broken and I was trying to make do with a meat thermometer which didn’t exactly clip on to the chocolate bowl very well. Between struggling with the candies, to struggling with keeping the chocolate a proper working temperature, to having the thermometer repeatedly flip off, I was not having a good day. Somewhere in the middle I lost my temper and so did my chocolate, as is evident in the streaky blobs that were meant to be fresh raspberry filled creams.

Bad Mental State = Bad Candy Making.

chocolate almond bark recipe

In the end, the hearts were salvageable, but the raspberry filled candies were a complete fail, and I sucked. After a few calming breaths and a level head once again, I remembered Nina’s trick of not wasting the tempered chocolate by pouring it out onto parchment paper. A great way to allow it to harden for future use, or… to make into almond bark. So I seeded the chocolate a bit more to get a better temper, toasted some almonds, sprinkled a bit of sea salt, and now have some almond bark. Sigh.

I sucked, and then learned from it. I always have to remember that when I am struggling is actually when I am learning the most. And at least there is the almond bark and a new day to try again. And it is “Dellliiccious!”

-Todd

Dark Chocolate Almond Bark Recipe

Yield: @ 1 1/4 pounds

Total Time: 15 min

This is a great way to use up leftover chocolate that you've tempered for another recipe. Tempering in this recipe is done using the "seeding method" (adding un-melted, reserved chocolate to the already melted) and instructions based off of Nina Wanat's Sweet Confections (which we had the pleasure of photographing). For best tempering results, use a candy thermometer until you are experienced enough to know the chocolate's temperature by feel (which we personally are not that good). And make sure not to get any water in the chocolate or else it may seize up on you. Don't have the water simmering too hard and wipe the bottom of the bowl after taking it off the hot water as a precaution. If using milk chocolate, the method is the same, but the temperatures needed will drop by a couple degrees.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (455g) Dark Chocolate
  • 3/4 cup (110g) Almonds, roasted
  • a pinch of flaky Sea Salt, such as Maldon Flaked Sea Salt

Directions:

  1. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and tear a couple small strips of parchment to use in testing the chocolate's temper. Heat a pot of water to a bare simmer. Chop the chocolate into pieces smaller than 1/2" *see Note 1.
  2. Place two-thirds of the chocolate in a medium bowl. Put the bowl over the pot of hot water and melt the chocolate completely (it should be 115°F for dark chocolate), stirring occasionally.
  3. After the chocolate is melted, remove from heat (dry the bottom of the bowl so water won't drip on your workspace) and stir in the remaining one-third of the chopped chocolate. Let it cool down, stirring occasionally until it reaches 88°F. If there are any chunks of un-melted chocolate remaining, remove them.
  4. Test the chocolate. Dip a small strip of parchment in the chocolate then let it sit for 3-5 minutes. If it sets shiny, well done, it is correctly tempered. If it is streaky, stir in more chopped chocolate and test again in 5 minutes.
  5. If the chocolate in the bowl is starting to cool off and harden along the edges, place it back over the hot water for 3 second intervals, stirring and checking the chocolate each time you take it off (make sure it doesn't warm up too much or you'll lose your tempering).
  6. When it is a pourable consistency, pour the chocolate in wide strips over the parchment paper. Spread with a spatula to your desired thickness, then sprinkle the almonds over the chocolate. Lightly sprinkle the sea salt.
  7. Let it cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container.

Note 1: A large serrated knife, cutting the chocolate block diagonally from the corners works the best for cutting up large blocks of chocolate.

Recipe Source: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

Hello! All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use our images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or simply link back to this post for the recipe. Thank you. And remember in making the recipes, if using table salt instead of kosher or sea salt, make sure you reduce the salt amount.


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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Averie @ Averie Cooks February 11, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Thanks for sharing your trials and tribulations with this recipe. I have days where nothing I do works. And everything I touch turns to crap. It’s like if I touch it, I will have a recipe fail and it’s so frustrating b/c sometimes things you think are going to be so easy or that you could do in your sleep, are the hardest things. I love that you salvaged it and that you shared this saga with us :) And you met Jacques Torres and photographed him? Didn’t know! how COOL!

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2 White on Rice Couple February 11, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Jacques is awesome. We’ve had the chance to photograph and film him a couple times. Brilliant, kind, and works amazingly hard. His wife, Hasty, who you can get her chocolates up in LA, is equally lovely. Love them both.

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3 Allie @ The Nutritional Epiphany February 11, 2013 at 11:27 pm

The neat picture of the almond bark is what caught my attention, but the commentary about “sucking” kept me smiling until the end. Glad to know what we all have days where things just don’t seem to be working, but they end up being ok eventually!

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4 Caroline @ chocolate & carrots February 12, 2013 at 4:08 am

What a great way to look at it. I too have ‘sucked’ many many times in the kitchen. I definitely agree with you that that’s when we learn the most. Despite these not being the prettiest candies, I’m sure they were delicious! :D

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5 alison @ Ingredients, Inc. February 12, 2013 at 7:38 am

oh I LOVE THIS!!

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6 Angie @ Big Bear's Wife February 12, 2013 at 7:45 am

I must admit that even though the raspberry cremes look tempting, I wouldn’t have the patience to make them haha. the Dark Chocolate Almond Bark looks wonderful and I could tackle that! yum!

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7 susan February 12, 2013 at 8:10 am

I have a tempering machine and candy is still a challenge. Regardless of their appearance, I am sure they were delicous enough.

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8 Gerry @ Foodness Gracious February 12, 2013 at 8:28 am

Your recovery job of almond bark is worthy of a gold medal! I am just finishing up a post and I mention a fail I had recently. It sucks when you have such a great vision in your head of what the finished post should look like and then womp, womp :) I tell my kids to learn from the mistakes but maybe they should be telling me lol!

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9 Jesse February 12, 2013 at 8:31 am

Both of the candies look very tasty; you must have infinite patience. I am terrible at tempering! The one time I tried it, I cracked my glass bowl in half.

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10 Maria February 12, 2013 at 9:13 am

The worst kitchen days make some of the best blog entries! Thanks for sharing your woes, which I can certainly relate to!

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11 Christine February 12, 2013 at 11:26 am

Ahhh, the thermometer flipping (you) off. Been there. Clenching teeth just thinking about it. Now, on to making something WITH LOVE…. Perhaps couples massage appointment?

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12 Abbe@This is How I Cook February 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm

You might like the raspberry cremes but I LOVE the bark. And if you want something else to work on; I love those caramelly nut chews they sell. :) And honestly, I would be thrilled if my husband just went and bought me the dang box!

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13 Michelle Trudy Holtz February 15, 2013 at 9:15 am

They may be messy, but they look tasty! I never worry about pretty food. I love it when something comes out perfect and picture worthy, but most of the time, if it tastes good, I don’t worry too much when the picture is only so-so. Most of my favorite foods are ugly.

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14 tracy {pale yellow} February 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Thanks for posting a baking “fail.” I just had friends spit out some cupcakes I made today. It’s humbling, but funny, and it’s always a great story!

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15 chau February 16, 2013 at 11:06 am

Looks delish! By the way, isn’t Jacques Torres from France?

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16 White on Rice Couple February 16, 2013 at 11:43 am

He is from France, and also now lives in NY. The reference to “a chocolate master from Mexico” refers to another chocolatier, whom we photographed at the Food and Wine event in Ixtapa. Unfortunately we couldn’t remember his name, but he was amazing.

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17 chau February 16, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Oh, I see. Cool, I appreciate the clarification!

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18 Mary March 28, 2014 at 4:38 am

Beautiful-looking bark….but I hope you’ll post when you try the raspberry centers again. Raspberry cremes are my absolute favorite, most “dellliiccious” candy, second to none!

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