The other night I was at a Maroon 5 Concert – Yes, me, Adam Levine, and some 18,000 adoring young female fans. He was just about to belt out one of his pop hits (could have been the chart-topping “Moves Like Jagger” or the ever-popular “This Love”), and then he stopped his performance to take away one of his fan’s cellphones. He placed the phone on the stage and pleaded with the audience to be in the moment and enjoy the music. It really made me think that I need to slow down in my life, and when it comes to cooking, and, in this case, baking, I should relish the moment.
And this recipe for Espresso, White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Bark that I’m going to share with you offers the perfect opportunity for being present and enjoying your five senses, enjoying the process, and ending up with a fabulous treat to boot.
I found this recipe in the cookbook, Williams-Sonoma: Gifts from the Kitchen (1994), which has been sitting in a key position on my kitchen shelf for over a decade. What made me decide to leaf through this cookbook I cannot tell you, but I can say that it was love at first sight, from the moment I saw the photo of the swirled bittersweet and white chocolate dotted with toasted macadamia nuts.
The key in making this bark is to get good chocolate. You can pick up the high quality “goods” at a reputable chocolate shop or high-end grocery store/market. Try a European white chocolate, like Lindt or Callebaut, for the best texture. For the macadamia nuts, buy the unsalted kind. Or if you prefer, you can always substitute slivered almonds. You will need to toast the nuts prior to heating up the chocolate. If using macadamia nuts, cut them in half after toasting.
And here’s where you really have to be in the moment. You are going to need two double boilers to heat both the white and the bittersweet chocolate. If you start thinking about having to clean up all the pots and pans, you are probably never going to make this, and that would be a shame because it is so sinfully delicious! In the first double boiler, you melt the white chocolate in a pan set over barely simmering water, then pour 3/4 cup of the nuts into the mixture. In the second double boiler, heat the bittersweet chocolate in the same method, and add 1/2 cup nuts and a couple teaspoons of freshly ground coffee (do not use instant!). When I made this, the combined smell of the coffee and chocolate was intoxicating, but it paled in comparison to the taste sensation when I licked the rich, creamy chocolate off the wooden spoons I used for stirring.
For the next step, you need to have a jelly roll pan (15 x 10 inches) ready that’s been prepped with butter and lined with wax paper. Take the melted white chocolate and pour it in two stripes down the length of the pan. Then take the melted bittersweet chocolate and pour it between the two white chocolate stripes. Now comes the fun part! Draw the tip of a knife back and forth across both chocolates to form a marble pattern. Tilt the pan to swirl the chocolates together, and finish it up by sprinkling the remaining nuts over the top.
The bark needs to be refrigerated for at least an hour. Then comes the next sense: touch. You will need to gently peel the candy from the waxed paper but you won’t want to get your fingerprints on the chocolate. Holding the bark with the waxed paper, break into large irregular pieces. Being in the moment, you might not want to wait to bite right into that chocolate and enjoy this tasty treat! Did I leave off one of the senses? Oh yes, you will hear lots of compliments when you share this with your friends and family!
Espresso, White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Bark
Williams Sonoma: Gifts from the Kitchen
10 oz European white chocolate, chopped
8 oz bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 cups unsalted macadamia nuts, toasted and halved
2 teaspoons freshly ground (fine-grind) coffee, not instant
Follow directions above.