Yup, it feels like Christmas. Our lights are up, our tree is decorated, stockings are hung with care…I even put out some cinnamon potpourri so every time I come home it smells aaaamazing. I finished my shopping, too! (Well, almost, one more person to go, but close enough) This Christmas season is very exciting for my family. You see, my husband and I have lived in the Pittsburgh area for about seven years, far away from family. In those seven years I’ve spent zero Thanksgivings with my family and one Christmas with them. As a girl who grew up with her entire, enormous family close by and always together with them for the holidays, the past seven years have been tough. Imagine my absolute surprise back in June when I learned my mom and dad would be moving two and half hours away from us…I was overjoyed. So, this will be the first year in seven that I’ll be with mom and pop for Christmas Day, and I get to host the big dinner! As if that weren’t exciting enough, my husband’s mother and stepfather – who we see maybe once a year if we’re lucky – will be spending Christmas with us, too. (I chuckle here because I know this situation may be some people’s worst nightmare, but I’m glad to say that we’re truly excited.) Stress? Well, yeah, a little. I’m used to feeding 2 adult mouths and bumping that up to 6, plus a preteen stepson and a picky toddler is a bit daunting.
Christmas dinner – in the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll think about that tomorrow,” but the sweets – well, I’ll think of that today. Last Christmas I made a rocky road chocolate bark that was easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy and really delicious so I’ve decided to make another batch of bark for our guests to nibble on throughout their stay. This time, I’m using white chocolate in the spirit of a season that has already covered our yard with snow. I’m using a recipe adapted from one of Ina Garten’s, who (in true Ina form) recommends serving this sweet confection with glasses of brandy…oh so chic. I think Moscato would be a great wine partner, or even some Irish Cream, whether over ice or generously mixed with coffee. The combination of the creamy vanilla-flavored white chocolate, salty pistachios and tart dried fruits hits all the right spots on the taste buds. It tastes festive, looks festive with its white, red and green colors (ignore the orange) and, trust me, will bring all your guests together, clamoring for the biggest piece.
White Chocolate Bark
Adapted from How Easy Is That? by Ina Garten
- 7.5 oz bar of good white chocolate
- 3 Tbsp dry roasted pistachios, salted and shelled
- 3 Tbsp dried apricots, chopped
- 3 Tbsp dried cranberries
Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Set aside. Chop up the white chocolate bar and place pieces in microwave safe bowl. Melt the chocolate in 30 second increments, until just melted – don’t overheat. Take out of microwave when there are still small chunks of unmelted chocolate and stir. The carry-over heat will melt the chocolate completely. Immediately pour chocolate on parchment paper and spread out into a rectangle shape, about 8 x 4 inches. Sprinkle pistachios, apricots and cranberries all over chocolate. Let chocolate cool completely – 30 minutes in the fridge should do it. Once cooled and chocolate is firm, break or cut bark into chunks. Serve with desired beverage.
–What easy treat do you like to serve to your guests?