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Cherry Hazelnut Chocolate Bark for Lovers

Cherry Hazelnut Chocolate Bark for Lovers

Cherries are my favorite stone fruit but they are hard to come by in the winter months, even in frozen form. Dried cherries to the rescue! When combined with luscious melted chocolate and that most European of nuts, the hazelnut, we have a decadent, semi-fancy homemade treat that would make even the most composed among us swoon. Chocolate bark is one of my favorite indulgences because it is a whole lotta bang for not too much buck.

Look for unsulphured, unsweetened dried cherries and, as always, Fair Trade chocolate (it costs a little more but it’s easier on the conscience). Hazelnuts, I will admit, are a bit fussy to deal with because of their skins but so worth it. If you don’t want to make the effort to remove them, consider toasting an easier nut, like pecans or cashews. If you do decide to use hazelnuts, don’t worry if you don’t get all the skins off – a little remaining is not a deal breaker.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Cherry Hazelnut Chocolate Bark for Lovers

2/3 cup hazelnuts, raw
3 cups Fair Trade vegan chocolate chips
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cherries

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

First, prepare the hazelnuts. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until darkened. Carefully gather in a clean kitchen towel and let steam for a minute or so. Rub vigorously in the kitchen towel for a few minutes, until some of the skins have been removed. Next, place in a colander and shake the loose skins off. Again, it’s not a problem if some skins remain. (And they will.) Coarsely chop by hand or pulse in the food processor.

Meanwhile, heat a couple of inches of water into a simmer in a small pot on the oven.

In a larger bowl, place the chocolate chips (reserving approximately cup) and coconut oil, stirring with a spoon or silicon spatula until melted. Keep the water at a simmer, and be very careful to not get any water or steam into the chocolate or it can “seize.” Remove the bowl from the simmering pot, add the remaining chocolate chips, and stir to combine. Put the bowl back onto the pot and stir together until entirely melted, and then remove.

Stir the vanilla, salt, and hazelnuts into the chocolate until fully incorporated. Spread onto your lined cookie sheet and place dried cherries throughout.

Refrigerate until solid and enjoy!

2015, Vegan Street

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