It will surprise many of you to know that as I type, I am eating the Lindt milk chocolate that I bought for the purpose of making chocolate bark. “But, Nathalie,” I hear you say. “What about that will of iron of yours?” What’s more, I’m eating it with a bowl of almonds, and the combination, while delicious of course, is assuredly nowhere near as delicious as the bark it could have become with milk chocolate, almonds and cranberries and orange oil. But that’s just too bad because the writing gods must get their due, and so they have. I’m buzzing already. And it’s Lindt, so je ne regrette rien.
Last week, I had the great good fortune to meet Ann Czaja, Lindt Chocolate Maitre Chocolatier. We were invited along to the Lindt store at the Shops at Don Mills to meet her and to make chocolate bark, my new favourite thing to make. I have a soft spot for chocolate bark because when I did a very restrictive elimination diet in the spring for eight gruelling weeks of first eliminating and then slowly introducing different foods, a diet that taught me exactly zero about what was ailing my poor malfunctioning gut (and did I mention that I did it for eight gruelling weeks?), one thing I was allowed to eat was dark chocolate. And nuts. So I made bark. Lots of it. Here’s how. (Apparently, back in July I thought it was four weeks. But it wasn’t. It was eight.)
So, naturally, I jumped at the chance to make chocolate bark in the presence of chocolate greatness, which is what I have come to believe Ann Czaja is.
She is the actual human person responsible for bringing Lindor pumpkin spice truffles into the world. And she had to fight for them, damn it. She had to convince the Swiss that they would sell, and they did. (I was not convinced, myself, so I bought two to try while I was in the Lindt store, one for me and one for a friend. Let’s just say that the friend did not get hers…. Will of iron, this girl.)
She is also the actual human person who is responsible for the salted caramel and dark chocolate truffle, something so divine it defies description. The woman works in a lab concocting these amazing things, and she gets paid to do it! Naturally, I had to ask about my own favourite ingredients. I mentioned to Ann that I had tried to make a bark flavoured with rosewater, but it had made the chocolate go all lumpy and strange. This is called “seizing,” and it’s what melted chocolate does when in comes into contact with liquid. That is why milk chocolate is made with powdered milk and not liquid milk. Now you know. Apparently, I should have been using rose oil to keep my chocolate nice and smooth. And now I know.
I asked, with great hope in my heart, if there was any chance we could expect a rose-flavoured truffle in the near future. Alas, though she has made some prototypes, there is no promise that such a divine thing would sell in North America. Sigh. Or in Switzerland, I guess. Le sigh.
So, I will have to continue making my own rose-infused chocolate, which is exactly what I plan to do this holiday season. The kids and I are making white, milk and dark chocolate barks as gifts for teachers, coaches and friends. The results are extraordinary, and as long as you can avoid eating your supplies before it’s time to use them, it really couldn’t be simpler to make. You could even host a bark-making party and make it a social occasion. Melt the chocolate, mix in the ingredients, pat it out into a disk of deliciousness, sprinkle with salt, drink cocktails while the bark chills, and voila! You and your guests end the night with all kinds of deliciousness. My recipes are here. They are all for dark chocolate bark, which has a bit more legitimacy as a healthy treat, but in December, we go wild.