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Recipe for chocolate-hazelnut bark

Makes about 4 cups

When you’re down to two ingredients, you need to pay attention and sometimes put a little extra effort into what you’re making. That’s the case with this homemade bark. The chocolate must be top quality and you need to temper it. Tempering makes glossy chocolate that isn’t streaked. First you melt it over hot water, then stir it over cold water to lower the temperature (add a few pieces of unmelted chocolate to help lower it), and finally raise the temperature. A thermometer is essential here. A drop of water that touches the melted chocolate will ruin in. Add skinned toasted hazelnuts (or use unsalted whole almonds, pine nuts, or walnuts), and spread in a square pan lined with plastic wrap to cool.

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cups skinned whole hazelnuts
12ounces bittersweet or semisweet
chocolate, coarsely chopped

1. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with plastic wrap, letting the excess hang over the sides. Have on hand a small baking dish. You also need a shallow dish with cold tap water and a small saucepan of water.

2. Set the oven at 350 degrees.

3. Spread hazelnuts in baking dish. Toast in the oven, shaking the pan several times, for 10 minutes, or until nuts are beginning to brown; cool.

4. In a heatproof bowl, place all but 2 tablespoons of the chocolate. Bring the saucepan of water to a boil and turn off the heat. Set the bowl of chocolate in it and stir constantly, until the chocolate melts and reaches 115 degrees. (You may need to hold the side of the hot bowl with a cloth or paper towel.) Reheat the water if necessary to bring the chocolate up to the correct temperature.

5. Remove the bowl from the heat and set in the bowl of cold water. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts and the temperature drops to 80 degrees.

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6. Reheat the saucepan of water. Turn off the burner and set the bowl of chocolate over the hot water. Heat, stirring, until the chocolate reaches 88 degrees (this will happen quickly).

7. Remove from heat and wipe off the bottom of the bowl. Stir in hazelnuts and spread chocolate in the baking pan, making an even layer. Set aside in a cool place for several hours or until it sets.

8. Use a long sharp knife to cut into squares. The block may shatter a little in places. Store in an airtight tin. Sheryl Julian