Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Almond Bark

21146978_10107176601405063_414396729_oChocolate-a girl’s best friend next to diamonds. But the best part is…chocolate is so much more affordable when you’re on a budget. I love giving home-made chocolate treats to friends and family as a gift during Christmas or special occasions. It has a personal touch because it is home-made, and who doesn’t love chocolate? No friends of mine, that’s for sure! I made this chocolate almond bark for my apartment manager, who has taken such great care of me and my fiancée during our time at our apartment complex.

Nothing satisfies like a delicious chocolate-y treat that has the rich deep flavor of real dark chocolate. I used to be a fan of milk chocolate, until I realized that it does not contain much of the real cacao, which is what makes chocolate ….chocolate. If you’ve ever wondered why you could down a whole bar of milk chocolate and still crave more chocolate, that it why. There is very little actual cacao in milk chocolate….which is why I always go for the real thing-dark chocolate that has at least 60% cacao in it. Usually I check the ingredients labels to make sure that milk powder and milk products are not in my chocolate. That is a sign that filler is being used to substitute for the real thing. No, thank you! I’ll take the real stuff as it actually satisfies rather than leaving me craving and wanting more and more.

Speaking of cravings, being on this stricter dietary regimen as part of my month of boot camp fitness has been really challenging. I want to eat pizza and cheeseburgers almost every day and top it all off with some yummy ice cream and chocolate cake. Since I can’t exactly do that, I decided to treat myself with a rich dark chocolate treat. Adding almonds just gives it extra protein and a crunch. Feel free to substitute with any other nuts that you enjoy/prefer: peanuts, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts. Flavored nuts would make this really interesting and yummy, but for waist watchers, it would be best to add in unflavored nuts due to the extra calories from added sugars.

This recipe is actually vegan-friendly and gluten-free as real dark chocolate contains no milk, dairy, wheat, or gluten. I am not a vegan or vegetarian, but I try to make my dietary intake comprised of mostly plants when possible. So even though it was not my intention to make this recipe vegan, it serendipitously is. =) Hope all my plant-based friends can enjoy this!

Cooking notes/tips:

Trader Joe’s has some of the best reasonable priced quality chocolate that I’ve used and cooked with. I always get their Pound Plus bar, with 60% cacao and break it up into its little squares. If you have access to better quality chocolate, feel free to use it! Avoid Nestle, Hershey, and most super market brand chocolate chips as they have a lot of added oils and sugars that you do not need in your body!

A double boiler is a great way to heat up/melt your chocolate as it ensures even heating and is less likely to lead to burnt chocolate. You can choose this method or microwave-whichever you prefer.

Recipe
Servings: 8-10
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Resting Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
8 oz dark chocolate (preferable 60% cacao or higher)
1 cup almonds
generous pinch of coarse sea salt

Directions:

Roughly chop up almonds.

Place chocolate into a microwave safe bowl and melt chocolate 1 minute at a time. Take out, stir, and continue to microwave for additional 30-second increments as needed.

Once chocolate is completely melted and smooth, pour in chopped almonds and mix well.

Pour chocolate mixture onto a parchment-paper/saran wrap lined sheet and spread until it makes a ½ inch thick layer.

Sprinkle coarse sea salt evenly on top of the chocolate.

Refrigerate and allow to set (~15 minutes). Enjoy with your loved ones!

 

 

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