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Monthly Archives: February 2013

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A friend and I got the idea for this yesterday and knew that we’d have to test it immediately.  You’re probably familiar with peppermint bark, the candy cane-covered chocolate that’s pretty ubiquitous around holiday season these days.  Well, this is salty-sweet kale bark, or, as it has been unofficially dubbed, “bacon chocolate for hippies,” born on a snowy, cloudy drive through the winding roads of the western Massachusetts hilltowns.

This bark consists of kale chips crumbled onto melted chocolate with a hefty pinch of salt.  Pretty simple, and infinitely variable.  For our first attempt, we stuck with a simple salted kale chip, but anything goes, really.  Curried kale chips?  Flakes of coconut sprinkled over the melted chocolate as well?  The world is your oyster…. or your kale patch?  Whatever.

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We used curly kale, which I definitely recommend because it holds a light, crispy texture really well against the chocolate.  After several kale-size experiments, I can say it’s definitely best not to over-crumble your kale onto the chocolate because that compromises its texture.  We also tested out two different types of dark chocolate and found that we preferred the lighter of the two, with 65% cocoa, because it had a nice fruity flavor and didn’t overwhelm the kale as much as the 71% bar we tried.

This is pretty much a dream come true … kale vaulted into the dessert category.  It’s just as good as we hoped it would be.  Happy bark-making, hippies.

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Salted Kale Bark

First, make kale chips.  Wash and dry your kale, stem it and break it into smaller pieces, and coat it with olive oil.  It’s important to try to use as little oil as you can, because no one wants greasy kale on their chocolate.  We used half a tablespoon for about half a bunch of kale.  Don’t worry if some chips are more on the oily side, though, because you can always just eat those ones on their own.  Spread the kale out on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and bake in a 325 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until crispy.  Let the kale chips cool completely.

Melt your chocolate in a microwave or over a double boiler, and spread it out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.  You want the chocolate to be fairly thin so that it doesn’t overwhelm the kale flavor, but not so thin that it’s not a sturdy base.  Experiment.  Sprinkle the melted chocolate with salt and cover with kale chip pieces.  More kale is better; try to cover all the chocolate and don’t forget about the edges.  Harden in the refrigerator or other cold place (wintertime garages are excellent).  Cut the kale bark into pieces and store in the refrigerator.

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It snowed two feet the other night, and I believe baking is pretty much mandatory on snow days.  So that’s why these cookies exist.  I’m a big fan of tahini in general, but I’d never put it in cookies before.  If you take a moment to imagine halvah, though, you’ll understand why it’s such a good idea.

Basically, if you like peanut butter cookies (and even if you don’t, probably), you’ll like these.  They have a really similar crumbly texture.  The tahini flavor is just strong enough, and they’re not too sweet.

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After making the original recipe, I tried a couple variations — first, simply coating the bottom of the cookies with chocolate, and then experimenting with substituting honey for the sugar.  Neither of these struck me as necessary or better than the original.  Maybe I’ll try those experiments again sometime, but for now — there’s no need!

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Tahini cookies (from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi)

Makes about 35 cookies

2/3 cup superfine sugar [I used granulated]

2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup light tahini paste [I don’t think I used light; what we have seems more dark. But it doesn’t seem to matter too much!]

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

5 tsp heavy cream [I used half and half]

2 cups plus 1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the sugar and butter in a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, until just combined but not aerated much.  With the machine running, add the tahini, vanilla, and cream, then add the flour and beat for about 1 minute, until the dough comes together. Transfer to a work surface and knead until smooth.

Pinch off 2/3 oz / 20g of the dough [a little less than walnut-sized] and roll into a ball between your palms.  Use the back of a fork to push down lightly on top of the ball so that it flattens just slightly and takes on the marks from the tines.  Place on a flattened baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing the cookies 1 1/4 inches apart.  Sprinkle a little cinnamon on each cookie and then bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until golden brown.