Veronica's Thyme Peanut Chocolate Bark
Taking inspiration from her organic kitchen garden in the verdant Portuguese countryside, Veronica sprinkles organic bittersweet chocolate bark with lemon thyme and hand harvested sea salt. An after dinner treat featuring a delicate texture and gentle saltiness, this is a decadent, grown-up and nostalgic sweet thing. While most chocolate today is produced in Africa, some of the finest and best is found in South America where the Aztec Indians believed that cacao seeds were the gift of the god of wisdom, Quetzalcoatl. So precious were the seeds of the cocoa tree they were used as a form of currency. Today chocolate is still highly valuable. Be part of a grass roots effort to support companies with ethical and sustainable chocolate harvesting practices.
8 ounces 60 to 75% chocolate, cut into small pieces
2 ounce block of 60 to 75% chocolate (for tempering)
1/3 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
Lemon thyme sprigs, bits of sprigs & leaves
Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
1. Melt 8 ounces of the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water. Turn the flame off.
2. Temper the chocolate to insure an even satin shine that sets quickly: add the 2 ounce block of chocolate to the melted chocolate and stir until the temperature is 90 degrees on an instant read thermometer. To check, dip a metal spoon into the chocolate when it reaches 90°F. Continue to stir the chocolate while you wait for the spoon's coating to set. If the chocolate is tempered it will set within 3 to 5 minutes at room temperature. Remove any of the remaining block of unmelted chocolate.
3. Line a quarter sheet baking tray with parchment paper.
4. Pour the melted chocolate over the paper and spread the chocolate with an off set spatula to form a 1/4" thick more or less rectangle.
5. Working quickly, sprinkle the peanuts, thyme, and sea salt flakes over the chocolate.
6. Let the chocolate set until firm in a cool 60 to 70 degrees place for 12 hours.
7. Break the bark into organic uneven pieces. The chocolate may be stored for up to one week in an airtight container,
Makes 1/2 pound
Chocolate is only as good as the beans it is made from. Seek the best you can afford. English thyme, particularly when its tiny purple flowers are in bloom, is a nice substitution for the lemon thyme. This recipe is easily doubled. Do not make the bark thicker or it will not break into shards. Do not refrigerate the bark or sugar bloom will appear and the thyme leaves will turn brown--altought the taste will not be effected, it will be unattractive.