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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Red Hot Spicy Chocolate Bark

Chocolate was brought to Europe by the conquistadors, who were introduced to it by the Aztecs in what is now modern day Mexico.

The Aztecs often added ground cacao beans into a drink and flavored with chili, cinnamon, and honey. "Xocolatl" was often served during important ceremonies and was thought to improve one's stamina and help fight fatigue.

While not an exact recipe, the flavor echoes from those earlier and exotic times. This chocolate bark is studded with toasted pumpkin seeds or nuts, Ancho chili, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper creating a nutty, seasonal, and spicy treat.

I recommend using some high quality chocolate to ensure superior bark, I don't care for pumpkin seeds so I did not add any of these or any other nuts, but if you like to add pumpkin seeds or nuts you can add roasted almonds, or pistachios to this recipe. I am just giving you a basic recipe, you can dress it up to your liking with nuts.

If you are having troubles finding Ancho chili powder, Chipotle chili powder could be used in a pinch as well while adding a slightly smoky flavor. I just used cayenne pepper powder from my India spice box (dabba).

Dark Chocolate and cayenne pepper may seem like an odd couple this combination is ancient: The Mayans in Central America were doing this in 600 A.D. it as very popular with the Aztecs in Mexico in the 1300's too. They would make a chocolate beans with peppers.

Here is the basic recipe:


* Two 3.5 oz of dark baking chocolate

* Two 12 oz bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips

* 1/3 cup of cayenne pepper powder(you can adjust taste from 1-2 tbls spoon to 1/3 cup or desired to your palate)

* 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)

* 3/4 cup of roasted chopped nuts (I did not use it this time)


* In a double boiler on slow heat melt chocolates until smooth.

* Add pepper and cinnamon and mix well until smooth and shiny still in boiler.

* Remove from heat.

* You can make bark by spreading the melted chocolate (~ 1/8" thick) on a waxed paper or parchment paper)

* If you are adding nuts you can sprinkle chopped roasted nuts on the thin layer of melted chocolate.

* Refrigerate the bark for 1 hour in the fridge.

* Break the bark in to pieces.

* Store covered at room temperature, away from heat or stove.

* This would make a great Christmas gift in a Candy box.

Enjoy :)

Recipe and Photographs by Surekha.

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