Dandy Candy – White Chocolate Bark with Ginger and Pistachios
In most cases homemade chocolates lack the suave texture and slick appearance of deluxe commercial versions, even though they’re just as flavorful. But chocolate bark – which is nothing more than melted chocolate mixed with tasty lumps and spread thin – is an exception. It’s every bit as glossy as boughten (on one side, anyway), and it’s usually even better because you have no reason to be stingy with the lumps.
‘Nough said. Valentine’s day is roaring at us at an unseemly pace and if you have to order the chocolate, for instance from chocosphere, it would be best to get going.
Singapore Bark – white chocolate with ginger and pistachios
As far as I know, this confection is unknown in the nation of its name, but the combo of ginger and pistachio has been “Singapore” for me ever since I fell under the spell of the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, in about 1960, and started making the recipe for Singapore Ice Cream (1 ½ cups sugar to a dozen egg yolks, 4 cups of cream and a cup each of candied ginger and pistachios).
The book is most famous for a recipe for “Haschish Fudge,” actually contributed by a friend, but to me it was – and is – loved for being a unique memoir told through wonderful food. Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas lived in a world of art and privilege that seemed magical to me back then, and following the recipes was proof.
Alice and Gertrude’s reputations have suffered heavy downward revision in the last couple of decades and living in their world has long since ceased to be an enticing prospect. But eating the food… that’s another story, and reading about it is as entertaining and mouthwatering as ever.
The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, published in 1954, has been in and out of print innumerable times. Checking Amazon just now it seems to be in an out phase, but no matter. Used copies are widely available.
For 1 pound bark, 4 candy bars if you cut it instead of breaking it irregularly in classic bark fashion:
5 oz. candied ginger, freed of excess sugar and cut into ¼ inch or smaller dice, @ ¾ cup prepared
approximately ¼ cup Cointreau
½ pound best quality white chocolate
4 oz. roasted unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped, @ 1 cup prepared
1. Put the ginger in a small, deep bowl and add enough Cointreau to come just over the top layer. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit overnight. Drain, reserving the liquid to use in mixed drinks or pour on your oatmeal. Spread the ginger chunks on a plate, not touching, and let them dry for several hours or until the surfaces are barely tacky.
2. Combine the ginger and pistachios in a small mixing bowl. Set out a sheet of foil about 14 inches long.
3. Chop the chocolate into roughly 1/3 inch chunks. This will create all sorts of shards and bits, too. Put the whole works in a small, shallow bowl and microwave at ½ power for 45 seconds. Stir with a rubber spatula. Give it another 30 seconds at half power and stir again. Repeat until the chocolate is almost all melted but still has a few solid bits floating. Stir until they dissolve.
(You can melt it in a double boiler over hot not simmering water, but it’s easier and safer to use the microwave. White chocolate overheats even more easily than dark and once it goes stiff there’s no rescuing it.)
4. Scrape the chocolate over the lumps and, working quickly, stir with the spatula until well combined. Turn the mixture onto the foil, setting it out in dollops to make a line about 10 inches long. Using a dull knife like a table knife, spread it out until you have a rectangle about 11x 5 inches, roughly 1/3 inch thick. At first this will seem impossible – the mixture is very thick and very lumpy – but perseverance furthers.
5. Let the candy set until it’s barely firm, then cut into 4 equal rectangles without separating them. When firmness is complete, cut again and peel the bars off the foil. For bark, just let it firm completely, then break it into large chunks.
Wrap tightly in plastic and keep in a cool place until you give it to someone you love.