Garden Lifestyle

Bittersweet Chocolate and Chipotle Bark with Salted Pistachios

After writing about making chocolate chipotle bark with salted pistachios, I have had requests for the recipe.

This easy-to-make chocolate chipotle bark with pistachios is my idea of an excellent confection. The bittersweet chocolate combined with salted pistachios and a good hint of chipotle makes for a delightful flavor combination. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger

After writing about making chocolate chipotle bark with salted pistachios, I have had requests for the recipe. I’m sharing the recipe here–it makes a brilliant gift for your favorite chilehead, chocoholic or gourmet cook! It is easy to make and one batch makes enough for two or three gifts.

This is my idea of the perfect candy confection, I find it titillating. I am a chile head, so this might not appeal to everyone, however, the combination of good quality bitter chocolate combined with the salted pistachio with a hint of ground smoky chile that lingers in the back of my palate is my idea of bliss. I have made this with unsalted pistachios and it tastes flat to me. I have converted a number of pure chocolate lovers to adulterating their chocolate with this recipe-in fact, I have a few devotees who call me for a fix every now and then.

I like this with a chocolate that is somewhere between 60 to 80% cocoa. I use ground powdered chipotle peppers, however ground ancho, guajillo or pasilla all work.The latter are not as pungent as chipotle so you might need a tad more. If you want a hint of the smoked flavor and your chiles haven’t been smoked, add a few pinches of smoked paprika. Just before pouring the chocolate, stir in the ground chile peppers and then taste. Add more to suit your taste. Remember that it isn’t as strong-tasting once it is poured over all of those pistachios-so make it a little hotter. It should leave a pleasant hot zing on the back of the palate. Salted cashews or almonds could be substituted, however the pistachios are my favorite nut here.

Tempering chocolate is not hard-it is just precise (a bit fussy)-and really only requires a little patience. The reason for tempering chocolate is that it brings down, or stabilizes the crystalline structure in chocolate and it also gives it a shiny luster and a snap when it breaks. Chocolate only needs to be tempered when it is going to be used on its own, say to make candy, molded, or used as a coating. There are many methods for doing this (even can be done in the microwave), I’m just going to give you the simple basics.

Makes a generous pound block of nut bark

1 pound bitter or semi sweet chocolate or a combination, broken into pieces or chopped coarse
About 1 1/2 cups salted pistachios
About 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground chipotle powder

Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and spread the pistachios out in one layer fairly close together.

Put 3/4 pound of the chocolate in the top of a double boiler and reserve the rest. Place the double boiler over medium heat and bring the water in the bottom to a simmer, then reduce heat so that it is hot, but not simmering. Stir the chocolate as it melts. Do not allow any steam or water to get in the chocolate or it will freeze up.

Using a candy thermometer, the temperature should reach over 100º F, but not more than 120º F, in order to melt all of the chocolate. When the chocolate is melted, remove from the bottom of the double boiler (sit the pot on a towel–careful not to get any water in the chocolate!) and stir.

Stir the chocolate and let it begin to cool. Drop a handful of the reserved chocolate into the melted chocolate and stir until it melts. The idea is to cool the melted chocolate and reintroduce the beta crystals as you stir in the reserved tempered chocolate. Repeat with the rest of the chocolate, a handful at a time, the temperature should reduce to 90º F or below.

Add the ground chipotle powder after the last bit of reserved tempered
chocolate is added. Taste for pungency before you pour the chocolate over
the nuts and add more if desired. it should give a nice warm hot zing on
the back of the palate once savored. The amount of nuts will tame the
pungency just a little, however the salt brings out both the bitterness and
heat some.

If you touch the chocolate it should not feel warm. If you dip the tip of a clean knife in it, it should start to set up in 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. Once any of these occur, the chocolate begins to set and the crystals set faster, so prepare to pour the chocolate.

Pour the chocolate evenly back and forth across the pistachios, just covering them. If there is any chocolate left, fill in the holes or thin spots. There should be enough to just cover the 1 ½ cups of pistachios. Gently tap the pan on a hard surface to spread the chocolate evenly. Put in a cool place and allow to harden.

Once hardened, turn the pistachio bark over on the parchment paper (hands and fingers will leave dull prints so handle as little as possible) and whack with the heavy handle of a kitchen knife to break into pieces. It is best to wrap chocolate in foil for storage (or pack into tins) and store at cool room temperature.

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