Aztec Chocolate Bark

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Please welcome guest author Garrett McCord who’s taking a study break to make us spicy chocolate bark. ~Elise

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.

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 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 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 onto a flat baking pan lined with a silpat or wax 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 food writer, writing instructor, culinary consultant, freelance food photographer, and recipe developer who shares his enthusiasm for food and the written word through his blog Vanilla Garlic. Garrett's cookbook, co-authored with Stephanie Stiavetti, is Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese

More from Garrett

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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

garrett-2-100.jpg
Garrett McCord writes for Edible Sacramento and his cocoa-licious food blog Vanilla Garlic. Garrett is writing a series of cookie recipes for us here at Simply Recipes. ~Elise

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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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