Spiced Dark Chocolate & Pumpkin Seed Bark with Sea Salt

katie vitucci

I am dubbing this treat "Halloween Candy for Grown-Ups." It's my kind of candy - a perfect combination of just enough sweetness, crunch, saltiness and a touch of spice.  While the super dark varieties of chocolate aren't really my thing, I love bittersweet chocolate.  Not only for it's purported health benefits but for, as it's name suggests - it's slightly bitter, not too sweet taste.  I know I'm probably not the only one who can get a bit overwhelmed with the sickeningly sweet candy overload that comes with Halloween.  This treat is perfect for folks like us and it's a fun treat to whip up for a teacher goodie bag, a hostess gift, or to serve if you're entertaining during the upcoming weeks.  

When I say you can whip this up, it's true - this recipe couldn't be easier.  Not only is it easy and quick to make, but it's very adaptable as well.  If you're not a fan of bittersweet chocolate, use semisweet or a combination of both.  Add dried fruit, like cranberries, cherries, or apricots.  Pumpkin seeds are appropriate for this time of year, but pistachios, almonds, peanuts, or cashews would be great too. 

Spiced Dark Chocolate & Pumpkin Seed Bark with Sea Salt

Makes about 12 ounces

If you don't have a double boiler, a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water will work just as well.  The chocolate can also be microwaved at 30 second intervals, checking and stirring after each, until completely melted.  Experiment with the ingredients and quantities to suit your tastes...such as adding dried fruit, assorted roasted nuts, or using a combination of semi-sweet and dark chocolate.  The spices give the chocolate a subtle heat, nothing too spicy.  If you'd like it on the spicier side, add a bit more ground chipotle.  Pumpkin pie spice can be found in most supermarkets, but if you're unable to find some, I've included a recipe to make you own at home below.

3 {3 1/2 ounce} bars good quality dark chocolate {70% cacao or higher}

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice {optional recipe below}

1/8 teaspoon ground red chipotle

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons roasted & salted hulled pumpkin seeds {plus more for decorating}

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Break the chocolate into small pieces.  Melt 3/4 of the chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Once melted remove from heat and add the remaining chocolate; stirring until melted.  Add the dried spices and stir to thoroughly combine.  Stir in a 1/2 cup of the pumpkin seeds.  

Using a silicone spatula scrape the mixture out onto the parchment paper.  Spread out evenly into a rectangle, as thin or as thick as you desire.  Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds over the top.  Let the bark rest for 5 minutes to cool slightly, then sprinkle the sea salt evenly over the top.

Refrigerate for 45 minutes, or until firm.  Break the bark into pieces and enjoy!

To make ahead: The bark can be made several days in advance and stored in an airtight container.  Keep refrigerated, or store in a cool spot.

Make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice {optional}: In a small container combine 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice. Yield: 2 teaspoons - Save the remaining spice blend for another use by storing it in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

[Recipe Source: Katie Vitucci]