Here's another post with an easy idea for a great gift: salted pepita chocolate bark. I brought little baggies of this to work last week, and everybody loved them. My coworkers were convinced that I bought the bark somewhere fancy. No one needs to know that this gourmet treat takes only minutes to make! I wrapped mine up in little cellophane treat bags, but you could also pack a bunch up in a nice holiday tin for a more sizeable gift.
If you missed my first post in the great gift ideas series, check it out. When you're done making vanilla salt, come back here to read about the bark. See you in five minutes!
Done? If not, you can substitute any coarse or flaky sea salt here, but the vanilla salt really takes this over the top. The pepitas provide a nice crunch and a pop of color, and the combination of vanilla bean, salt, and dark chocolate is absolutely amazing.
I like to make this right before bed, then leave it out to harden while I sleep. When I wake up in the morning, it's ready to break into pieces. Because of this routine, Ben calls this "breakfast chocolate". I can assure you, however, that it's delicious any time of day. I'm planning on making some more so I can put out a big bowl of it on Thanksgiving, for those of us who like to nibble on something sweet while waiting for the turkey. Enjoy!
Ingredients (makes about 30 pieces):
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used Guittard)
1/3 cup pepitas (raw, shelled pumpkin seeds)
About 1/2 teaspoon vanilla salt, or to taste (or any flaky or coarse sea salt)
Line an 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper.
Melt the chocolate in a saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly, or by microwaving it in a heatproof bowl for 30-second intervals, stirring in between.
Pour the chocolate into the prepared pan, and use a small spatula to spread it into an even layer. Sprinkle most of the pepitas and vanilla salt on top, and use the spatula to swirl the toppings into the chocolate a bit. Sprinkle the remaining pepitas and salt on top. Let the chocolate harden for at least 2 hours, then slice or break into pieces.
Chocolate bark will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a very long time. I always eat it fast, though, or wrap it up and give it away as a gift.
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