Friday, June 27, 2014

Knackerli (a.k.a. chocolate bark)

There's a recipe -- and the name "knackerli"--  in the book The Art of the Chocolatier by Ewald Notter that was the basis for the results pictured here, made at this year's Summer Institute at Bellingham Technical College (they have a great culinary program). But if you've ever made peppermint bark around Christmas time, you've got the basic idea, which I've summarized here.

chocolate - dark, milk or white
dried fruits

Pretty much any nuts will work. Since I have allergies, I'm personally limited to peanuts, but you can use any combination. Pistachios can add a bit of color. The same goes with the fruit...lots of options here; pick your favorites: raisins, dried apricots, dried cranberries, dried cherries, chopped dried mango....candied orange peel or candied ginger also work great.

Chop any of the fruits and nuts that are oversized.

Temper the chocolate.* Cool the chocolate to its working temperature (basic guide would be 84-86° for white, 86-88° for milk, and 88-90° for dark), and work quickly to make your knackerli.

You can pipe the chocolate into discs, oblong bars, crescents, or just about any shape you want. Use a pastry bag (or if you don't have one, put the melted chocolate in a heavy duty zip lock plastic bag and snip off a small corner). Or...pour and spread the chocolate in a thin layer over a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Sprinkle generously with chopped dried fruits and nuts. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes or until set. If you made a large sheet of bark, break it into rough pieces. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark location.

* Tempering: Beyond just melting the chocolate, tempering produces a nice glossy finish, a good 'snap' to your cooled chocolates, and prevents the discoloration or "bloom" that can mar your chocolate creations. As a general rule, heat the chocolate until it reaches 110-115°, or 120° for dark chocolate. Then cool the chocolate to it's working temperature (see above) and work fairly quickly to make your creations while the chocolate is still in range.

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