Salted Dark Chocolate and Cinnamon Bars with Apricots, Cranberries and Pistachios

Simply put, these are lovely to look at. Even better, they’re equally delicious and can really be made with any combination of ingredients that you (or the recipient) like. Dark chocolate and cinnamon is a match made in heaven, especially this time of year. The dried fruit and nuts add a unique texture, while the sea salt truly brightens and rounds out the flavors exquisitely.
By / Photography By Elizabeth Howes | December 01, 2011

Instructions

Yield: 4 bars

Line loaf pans with unbleached parchment paper, covering all sides. Run your finger around the inside periphery to crease the paper to fit the bottom of the pan. With a sharp knife, roughly chop the pistachios, leaving some in bigger chunks and some resembling “pistachio dust.” Dice the apricots and roughly chop the cranberries. Set aside.

Place the chocolate in a double boiler (or a heat-safe bowl fit snugly over a medium saucepan filled 1/4 of the way with water). Over medium-low heat, gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally to help the process along. Once the chocolate is almost completely melted, stir in the cinnamon until well combined. At this point, the chocolate should be very smooth and glossy.

Carefully divide the chocolate among the loaf pans and smooth with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle 1/4 of the pistachios, apricots, dried cranberries and sea salt over the melted chocolate in each pan. Gently press with your fingertips to make sure the chocolate and toppings will adhere once set.

(Note: This recipe can also be made into chocolate bark, if you prefer. Just spread the chocolate and cinnamon mixture onto a large parchment-lined baking sheet and follow the directions from there. It will take a little longer to set, about 30—40 minutes.)

Place the loaf pans in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, or until the chocolate is completely set. Once set, carefully pull the parchment and chocolate out of the pan and peel the parchment away from the bar. If there are any jagged edges, gently clean them up with a small, sharp knife.

Wrap in an airtight package, such as a food-safe cellophane bag, with a tag and bow and refrigerate until you’re ready to give to friends. These are best eaten within a week and may be kept for 2 weeks, if refrigerated.


*This recipe calls for 7 ½- by 2 ½-inch loaf pans, but standard 8- by 4 ½-inch will also do the trick. Just be sure to adjust the amount of chocolate in each pan to provide the thickness you’re looking for. Also, if you don’t have 4 loaf pans, just work in batches. The bars tend to set within 15—20 minutes.

Tip: Restaurant supply companies are great for finding different sized loaf pans, among many other things, for an excellent deal. Two great spots in San Francisco are Kamei Restaurant Supply and Economy Restaurant Fixtures.

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Ingredients

  • 3 ½ tablespoons shelled pistachios
  • 12 dried apricots
  • 3 ½ tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 20 ounces TCHO dark chocolate baking drops (other local chocolate—either bar or chips—will also work)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon Maldon Sea Salt or Fleur de Sel (feel free to use more or less depending upon your preference)
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