When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trail Mix Dark Chocolate Bark (gluten-free, vegan)

The little voices are calling to you today, aren't they?  From somewhere buried deep within a cupboard where you've left them in the hopes of being able to ignore them, those fun-sized assorted chocolate bars you purchased "for the trick-or-treaters" are calling your name relentlessly, taunting you even.  I know; for years I heard them, too, and despite my best efforts, it was impossible to resist them. I'd eat one of this kind while I was reading the paper, one of that kind while I was cutting up apples for the boys' snack, one of the first kind again because it was my favourite, and before I knew it, I'd made a good-sized dent in the package of treats.

I finally stopped listening to the little voices several years ago, when I realized that giving into them was leaving me feeling very unwell.  I save all of the candy for the trick-or-treaters now, but that's not to say that I don't still enjoy a sweet treat on days like today.  I've just learned to choose ones that have ingredients that are healthier for me, and I make sure I enjoy them in moderation.

This Hallowe'en my sweet indulgence comes in the form of a delicious chocolate bark that I created very easily this morning.  Made with flavonoid-rich dark chocolate, heart-healthy almonds, fruit-juice sweetened cranberries, and nutritious coconut, this bark is a great alternative to the typical chocolate treats found on store shelves this time of year.

Trail Mix Dark Chocolate Bark

2 85g bars of dark chocolate, chopped (I use Endangered Species brand, which is 72% cocoa)
1/3 cup natural almonds
1/8 cup unsweetened large coconut flakes
1/8 cup dried fruit-juice sweetened cranberries

Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with a piece of parchment paper.

Place a small dry skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat, and add the almonds to the pan.  Toast them lightly, gently shaking the pan from time to time, and then remove the pan from the heat to allow the almonds to cool slightly.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chopped dark chocolate, stirring often.  Once the chocolate is completely melted, pour most of it out onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet.  (Reserve a small amount of the chocolate for drizzling over the bark afterwards.)  Spread the chocolate out in a fairly thin layer on the pan using a spatula.

Sprinkle the toasted almonds, the coconut flakes, and the dried cranberries evenly over the melted chocolate.  Use a spoon to drizzle the reserved chocolate over top of the nuts and fruit.

Place the pan in the freezer for a couple of hours to allow the bark to firm up.  Once solid, the chocolate treat can be broken up into pieces and enjoyed.

Making this indulgent chocolate bark takes very little time at all, and I think you'll really enjoy the end results. A batch of this better-for-you treat may be just the thing to silence those persistent little voices.

Wishing you and your family a safe and happy Hallowe'en!


  1. This looks yummy. I've pinned it for later. :)

    1. I hope you love it as much as I do, tijya! Thanks for stopping by. :)