I’m always amazed at how swiftly the Christmas season passes by. We spend months, literally months, preparing for December 25th and then – poof – it’s gone. I keep my tree up well past the new year in hopes of hanging onto the last shred of spirit, but all it takes is one trip to a big name retailer, where I suddenly see candy hearts and Valentines to let me know it’s truly over until next year. The same can be said for Christmas dinner. I start thinking about it weeks before Christmas Day. I save up to buy my prime rib, I scour my cookbooks looking for the perfect side dishes and then again to choose the perfect dessert. And – poof – dinner is over in less than an hour. While I never really regret the planning, I’ve decided to ease up a little bit this year. I have my prime rib (couldn’t part with this tradition) but I’m doing simple mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts on the side. And not fancy-schmancy Brussels sprouts with expensive ingredients and long cooking times, but rather easy stove-braised sprouts that will be ready in a snap.
Dessert, too, is going to be a no-fuss ordeal. In the past, I’ve done chocolate mousse, pumpkin banana tarts and apple-pear galettes. Translation: work, work, work and time, time, time. This Christmas Day I’m doing a chocolate bark that I can make ahead of time and everyone can munch on it as they please. The hardest part about this bark is melting the chocolate, so anyone can throw it together. And the toppings can vary according to whatever you have in your pantry. I happen to have a bag of mini marshmallows and some roasted almonds, so mine will be a rocky-road flavored bark. Other good toppings for chocolate bark include crushed candy canes, dried fruit, and salted nuts. And you could also use white chocolate. Ideally, I want to serve this bark with some seasonal clementines and some type of after-dinner cordial, like Zinfandel Port or Grand Marnier. But I’m not going to sweat it…if I make it to the store again and can find what I need, so be it. If not, it will be Christmas just the same.
Rocky Road Chocolate Bark
- 6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup mini marshmallows
- 1 cup roasted almonds, chopped
In a double-boiler, place your chocolate. Stir until it is just melted. If you do not have a double boiler, simply bring some water up to a simmer in a saucepan. Place a metal or glass bowl over the saucepan (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water). Place your chocolate in the bowl and let the heat melt the chocolate. Take the chocolate off the heat and let it cool slightly. Next, pour all of the chocolate onto a large piece of parchment paper and spread it out into a rectangle shape, about 9×10 inches. Immediately spread your marshmallows and almonds over the top. Set aside the topped chocolate for at least 2 hours until it is completely firm. Cut the bark into chunks or break it up with your fingers. Serve at room temperature.
Still too much work? Cheat and buy it here. We won’t tell.
–What is your favorite Christmas dessert?