By Alison, Contributing Writer
Sweet, salty, rich, creamy, crunchy, chewy—this gourmet chocolate bark pushes all my buttons! It’s irresistible. Bring the lingering warmth of chile to rich dark chocolate, add earthy, toasty pumpkin seeds—pepitas—and the tangy high note of dried mango, and you’ve got the perfect Christmas gift for foodie friends, co-workers, and hostesses.
The best part? It’s ridiculously easy. Melt some good dark chocolate, swirl in the ground chile, pool it onto a cookie sheet and adorn with gently roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and dried mango. The end.
And what a happy, happy ending it is!
I discovered the wonders of spice in my chocolate several years ago at a Houston area farmers’ market. A chocolatier there introduced me to flavors like chile-mango or black pepper-orange peel, which sounded revolting but sent me over the moon with delight. I don’t know what happened to her, but memories of those confections still linger.
My favorite combination of mango, pepita, and chile leaped back to my mind recently as I’ve been exploring New Mexican food. New Mexicans, if you don’t already know, are serious about their chile. It is “chile” around here, by the way, and never “chili.” And the state question: “red or green?” After several rounds of “Christmas” (that means some of both), I’m happy to announce that I am a red chile girl through and through.
And it’s that glorious New Mexican red chile that makes this chocolate special. I use a combination of ancho chile and red chile powder to get the right balance of flavor and spice, but if you can only get your hands on ancho chile powder, it will still be amazing. Don’t worry, this chocolate won’t knock you over. The chile effect is like a little lift at the end of all the other flavors that will have everyone hypnotized.
A few notes on ingredients:
- Your best bet for finding pure ground chile/chili (not the blend of chili, garlic, and cumin which often goes by the name “chili powder”) is likely the ethnic section at your grocery store. Please note that this is not the same thing as either cayenne or crushed red pepper. You can also buy it online here at Amazon (affiliate link).
- Choose a dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) to keep the sugar content low. Two companies I like are Theo and Chocolove. Both offer fair trade bars, and Theo’s chocolate is soy-free too.
- I chose to gently roast my pepitas instead of soak and dehydrate them because I’m cooperating with an Ayurvedic practitioner who doesn’t want me to consume sprouts of any kind. (Sourdough and soaked grains are okay, just not soaked seeds because they begin to germinate.) Kimberly has written before about the confusion surrounding phytic acid in foods, and she personally has found that the soaked and dehydrated “crispy nuts” digest better for her. So I say choose whichever method you and your stomach prefer!
- 1 lb (16 oz) good quality dark chocolate, at least 70% cacao (I like Theo or Chocolove)
- 1¼ teaspoon ancho chile powder
- 1¼ teaspoon pure red chile powder (the only ingredient should be ground chile/chili)*
- 1 cup (~3 oz) diced dried mango, unsulfered and unsweetened
- 1 cup (~6 oz) raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)**
- 1 Tablespoon virgin coconut oil
- sea salt
- Heat oven to 250. Toss raw pepitas with melted coconut oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes, stir, bake for 10 more minutes, stir, then bake for 5 minutes at a time until toasty-smelling. (~25 minutes total)*
- Meanwhile, break the chocolate into pieces and add to a double boiler or a glass bowl set atop simmering water. Melt gently, stirring occasionally.
- When smooth, add the ancho chile powder and red chile powder and combine thoroughly.
- Pour chocolate onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with diced mango and toasted pepitas. The chocolate will spread as you add the toppings.
- Set aside to cool (a snow drift is a great place to do this, but do not place in fridge).
- Break into pieces with your hands and wrap with love.
**Alternatively, you can soak and dehydrate your pumpkin seeds, following instructions here
If you like this recipe, join me at Alison’s List over the next 7 days as I share two more chocolate bark recipes: Curry Chocolate Bark with Cashews & Coconut and Cinnamon-Laced Chocolate with Caramel & Pinon Nuts. It’s shaping up to be a delicious Christmas already!
And be sure to check out the many fabulous chocolate and candy recipes here at the Nourishing Gourmet:
- Fig & Walnut White Chocolates
- Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Lollipops
- Chocolate Covered Coconut Snowballs
- Silky Maple Chocolate Fudge
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