Aztec Chocolate Bark

New world Chocolate Bark with semi-sweet chocolate, cinnamon, chili pepper, and toasted pumpkin seeds.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Apparently peppermint bark just isn’t everyone’s favorite winter candy, and admittedly once in a while I get a bit tired of the same ‘ol treats. This however, this is something completely different.

Chocolate was brought to Europe by the conquistadores, who were introduced to it by the Aztecs in what is now modern day Mexico.

Prized by the Aztecs, the cacao was ground into a drink and flavored with chili, cinnamon, and honey. “Xocolatl” was often served during important ceremonies and was thought to improve one’s stamina and help fight fatigue.

Aztec Chocolate Bark

While not an exact recipe, the flavor echoes from those earlier and exotic times. This chocolate bark is studded with toasted pumpkin seeds, ancho chili, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper creating a nutty, seasonal, and spicy treat.

I suggest using some high quality chocolate to ensure superior bark, and you can usually find hulled pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas) at your local natural foods store or Whole Foods.

If you are having troubles finding ancho chili powder, chipotle chili powder could be used in a pinch as well while adding a slightly smoky flavor.

Aztec Chocolate Bark Recipe

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of hulled, unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, plus a dash extra
  • 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, plus a dash extra
  • 3/4 teaspoon of ancho chili powder, plus a dash extra
  • 12 oz. of bitter or semi-sweet chocolate

Method

1 Toast the pumpkin seeds: Place the pumpkin seeds in a skillet over medium-low heat. Toast the pumpkin seeds for about 5 minutes, they'll pop and jump a bit as they release their oils and moisture. Allow to cool.

2 Melt chocolate, stir in spices, pumpkin seeds: Melt the chocolate according to the manufacturer's directions. Once melted add the cinnamon, cayenne pepper, ancho chili powder, and most of the pumpkin seeds saving some to decorate the top with.

3 Spread on lined baking sheet and chill: Spread onto a flat baking pan lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Sprinkle over and press into the chocolate the last few pumpkin seeds and sprinkle on a dash more of the spices for color and taste.

Place in the freezer for 5 minutes or until hardened. Break into pieces and serve or store in the fridge in an airtight container. Best consumed in one or two days.

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Garrett McCord

Garrett McCord is a professional writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in many print and online publications such as Gourmet Live, Saveur, Huffington Post, Smithsonian, and NPR. Past clients also include numerous food companies, wineries, and distilleries. Garrett writes about cocktails on his website, Coupe de Grace.

More from Garrett

Links:

History of Chocolate - Wikipedia

How to temper chocolate - useful advice from David Lebovitz if you are planning on making the Aztec bark and not eating it right away

Showing 4 of 11 Comments

  • Adiel

    I actually tried the recipe and ended up burning my mouth!
    I used Jalapeno as the pepper as I could not find the right chilli at my local store, then realized I can get them from a specialty online shop in the UK http://mexika.co.uk/product-category/mexican-pantry/dried-chillies/ they do the chocolate too, I may give it a second attempt, but this time with the right stuff!

  • michelle

    What a delicious and easy recipe! I used chipotle chili powder instead of ancho. Loved this! We had it for our New Year’s Eve party tonight. :)

  • Steve the Mexican

    Anchos in the UK??…. Look no further than the Mexican Food specialits :

    http://www.mexgrocer.co.uk/Ancho-Chillies-100g-p-16142.html

    They’ve got loads of products that I love love love. The best range of authentic Mexican foods & chillies.

    Check them out folks! Saludos!!

  • meliss

    Thank you Garret & Elise. This was such a quick and easy recipe, I will be making variations throuhgout the yesr. For the trial, I used Pepitas, roasted/salted pumpkin seeds, and it came out fabulous. I am a big fan of sweet and savory dishes.

    Side note, does anyone have a simple or not so simple recipe for just making chocolate? I know you need cocoa powder and nibs, coco-butter, powdered sugar and something else? Help me please, thanks, ~m

  • Rebecca

    I made this for my new year’s party (http://a-side-of-beef.blogspot.com/2008/01/new-years-chili-other-goodies.html) People enjoyed it. It wasn’t as spicy as I expected — just the right amount of kick. Next time I’ll add extra pepitas though, I like how they breakup the chocolate texture and flavor.

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