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Festive Dark Chocolate Bark with Pistachios and Dried Cherries

Published by Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD on Dec 17, 2020

Spread Christmas cheer with this festive treat…An addictive delight with every bite!

With the holidays almost here, if spending hours baking sweet treats sounds overwhelming, here’s your answer. Opt instead to make this incredibly simple and divine dark chocolate bark with dried fruit and nuts.  Ready in a flash with only four ingredients, you’ll spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your loved ones.

It’s hard to imagine a world without the indulgence of chocolate. My chocolate passion is dark chocolate of at least 70 percent cacao content. The intensity, the not-so-sweet flavor is delectably rich.

Nutritionally, dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants like flavanols and catechins with valuable antioxidant power. Let’s not forget that dark chocolate also offers important minerals such as magnesium, copper, and zinc. And if you’re trying to reduce sugar overload, dark chocolate should be your choice. That’s because dark chocolate, with a 70 percent cacao content or higher, is a better choice than milk chocolate.  The higher the cacao content, the more cocoa chocolate contains and that means less sugar.  Milk chocolate, on the other hand, has been sweetened up A LOT. It’s like eating a high dose of sugar and unhealthy saturated fat with every bite, both no-go’s for good health.

However, to sweeten it up a bit, I added dried cherries to the mix but really, any dried fruit will do.  Dried fruit are a good source of fiber along with antioxidants called polyphenols, beneficial for lowering rates of heart disease, diabetes and for reducing inflammation. Choose unsweetened dried fruit helping keep sugar to a minimum.

Choose any combination of nuts you like, but for the holidays, green pistachios are perfect. Bursting with fiber, minerals and heart healthy unsaturated fat, pistachios just make sense. Here’s a fun fact about pistachios to impress friends with:  In the culinary world, pistachios are treated as a nut. But botanically, pistachios are actually seeds of the pistachio tree. And now you know.

For some added texture with a bit of crunch, I threw in fiber-rich chia seeds. However, anything goes when it comes to add-ins for chocolate bark recipes. Crushed peppermint, flaked coconut, chopped dried apricot, pepitas, candied ginger, even broken bits of pretzels, are fun ideas for discovering what fancies your taste buds best.

In case you’re still shopping for that hard-to-buy for person on your Christmas list, why not wrap up this homemade delicacy in a small decorative gift box or bag. Who doesn’t appreciate a made-with-love Christmas goodie!

 

Festive Dark Chocolate Bark with Pistachios and Dried Cherries

Ingredients

2 cups or 8 ounces of dark chocolate of at least 70% cacao content, broken into small pieces

1/3 cup shelled pistachios or other preferred nut, coarsely chopped

¼ cup dried unsweetened cherries or cranberries

½ to 1 tablespoon chia seeds

Directions:

  1. Place broken dark chocolate into a microwavable bowl in the microwave for 90 seconds. Remove from microwave, stirring until smooth.
  2. On a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, pour melted chocolate using a spatula to spread into a thin layer.
  3. Evenly sprinkle pistachios, cherries, and chia seeds on top of the chocolate.
  4. Put pan in the freezer for two hours.
  5. Remove from freezer and peel frozen bark away from the parchment paper, breaking the bark apart into pieces.

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Click here to download a sample chapter of Cheryl’s book, The Nourished Brain, and get a free printable meal-planning guide so you can start eating your way to a healthier brain today.

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Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD

Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Institutional Management from Kansas State University. She is a clinical dietitian for Cotton O’Neil Clinics in Topeka and Osage City; an adjunct professor for Allen Community College, Burlingame, KS where she teaches Basic Nutrition; and is a freelance writer and blog contributor for Dr. David Samadi, Urologic Oncologist Expert and World Renowned Robotic Surgeon in New York City. Cheryl is also the author of The Nourished Brain, The Latest Science on Food’s Power for Protecting the Brain from Alzheimers and Dementia and The Prediabetes Action Plan and Cookbook, both available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback editions.

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