Monday, June 18, 2012

Sugarplums, Espresso Sea Salt Dusted Almond Chocolate Bark and other Dessert Treats

The Taste and Savor team was in the kitchen on Saturday, creating a luscious dessert buffet celebration. We love it when we can showcase sweets that are so tasty, you don’t even know they are better-for-you!

Among the recipes that we cooked up, one of the hands-down favorites was the Sugarplums. Because of their dark brown color and their deep rich taste, many eaters thought they were made with chocolate. Au contraire, Mon Amis! Check out the recipe below to see that they are tiny balls filled with flavor that are created with dried fruit and nuts, with just a little Grappa to pull all the yumminess together. Thanks to my recent trip to South Africa and a wonderful visit to Dalla Cia I had the perfect Grappa to add to the mix.

You know, Grappa is made from the seeds, stems and skins of the grapes – but most often the Grappa we find in the store is just a mish-mash of different varieties. It’s simply not true about George’s Dalla Cia Grappa – this is a smooth, silky combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, (could we call it a Bordeaux Grappa?), that slides down easily – especially with a fun dessert like the sugarplums.

And… speaking of chocolate, another fun dessert was one of our most-requested: Chocolate Bark. But this time we changed it up a bit, by adding toasted whole almonds and a sprinkle of Espresso Sea Salt. Need I say that one piece was not enough? When you make your chocolate bark, just make sure to use a really dark chocolate – over 60%. Check to see that it is not “dutch processed” or processed with alkali. When the chocolate is manufactured like this, you lose many of the antioxidants! We used salt from Dean and Deluca, but I think you could easily create your own by combining finely ground espresso and sea salt in a 1 to 3 ratio.

What else did we serve? Margarita Cupcakes from the Friday Four 080511, Mini Spring Fruit Cheesecakes 060112 and as take-away, Orange Oatmeal Cookies from the Taste and Savor Cookbook!

Espresso Sea Salted Dusted Almond Chocolate Bark

4 (3.5 OZ) 70 – 90% Dark Chocolate Bars (I like Lindt Chocolate)
½ Cup Toasted Whole Almonds
1 TB Espresso Sea Salt

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, or in the microwave. Pour the melted chocolate on a piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle the nuts and sea salt over the chocolate and place in the fridge until the chocolate hardens. Break the bark into small pieces and serve.

½  Cup Pitted Dates
½ Cup Dried Apricots
½  Cup Pitted Prunes
1 ½  Cup Dried Cherries or Cranberries
1 ½  Cup Chopped Toasted Nuts, (Walnuts, Pecans or Almonds)
½ Cup Candied Ginger
3 TBs Lime Zest
2 TBs Grappa
½ Cup Raw Sugar

Place the dried fruit, nuts ginger and zest into the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely chopped; add the grappa and pulse until combined and you can shape the mixture into 1” balls.

Roll the balls in the raw sugar and place on a parchment paper lined sheet tray. Let air-dry until no longer sticky about 2-3 hours.

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