Easter is second on the list of top-selling candy holidays (after Halloween, of course). Skip the sugary jellybeans, chocolate eggs and marshmallow chicks and make your candy with some healthy ingredients thrown in. Chocolate bark is the easiest sweets recipe ever!
My go-to combination is dark chocolate with slivered almonds, dried cherries and apricots. But my new favorite mix features toasted hazelnuts, a touch of spice and a secret crunch.
Dana’s Dark Chocolate Bark
Makes 24 pieces
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
16 ounces dark chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup brown rice cereal
In addition to being one of the most antioxidant-rich nuts, hazelnuts are high in protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamin E and iron. If you’re a fan of chocolate–hazelnut spreads like Nutella, this candy won’t disappoint.
Dark chocolate contains numerous antioxidants, including theobromine, which combats inflammation and is good for your blood pressure. The darker the chocolate, the more of these these cell-protecting compounds you get. Check labels on chocolate bars for the percentage of cocoa content — the higher the number, the darker the chocolate. For the best balance of flavor, I use a combination of 73% dark chocolate along with a few ounces of semisweet chocolate. Buy good quality chocolate bars and chop them into small pieces for quick melting.
Vanilla Extract & Ground Cinnamon
Vanilla and cinnamon add depth and flavor without additional calories. It also never hurts to sprinkle on the cinnamon for some more antioxidants.
Brown Rice Cereal
For a crispy crunch and some texture, mix in some rice cereal. Use the whole-grain version — it has a slightly nutty flavor that’s perfect with the chocolate. Look for it in most large grocery stores; Erewhon is the brand I see most often.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat sheet and set aside. Toast hazelnuts in a dry pan until warmed and fragrant. Let the nuts cool, then chop and set chopped pieces aside.
In a double boiler, slowly melt chocolate, stirring gently with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in vanilla and cinnamon; add brown rice cereal and mix gently. Pour mixture onto lined baking sheet and smooth out evenly into a rectangular shape (it doesn’t have to be perfect).
Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts and set aside for 1 to 2 hours (or 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge) until chocolate hardens. Break into pieces and serve.
Variation: Flavor your chocolate with just the vanilla, omit the brown rice cereal and top with 1/3 cup slivered almonds and 1/3 cup dried cherries and chopped dried apricots.
Tip: Wrap bark in decorative cellophane bags and them tuck into Easter baskets. You can store the bark in the freezer for up to a month.
Nutrition Info (per piece)
Calories: 120; Total Fat: 8 grams; Saturated Fat: 4 grams; Total Carbohydrate: 11 grams; Protein: 2 grams; Sodium: 28 milligrams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Fiber: 2 grams
Cherry, Almond & Apricot:
Calories: 110; Total Fat: 7 grams; Saturated Fat: 4 grams; Total Carbohydrate: 11 grams; Protein: 1 gram; Sodium: 12 milligrams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Fiber: 2 grams