Joy of Cooking Recipe: Chocolate Bark and Clusters

Irma Rombauer self-published the first Joy of Cooking in 1931 with the small insurance payout she received after her husband committed suicide during the Great Depression. Suddenly, society wives who used to enjoy a kitchen staff no longer had the money to employ them and began cooking for themselves. The instruction "stand facing the stove" was a bit more pragmatic than we realize. In 1936, the first commercial edition was published by Bobbs-Merrill. Marion Rombauer Becker, Irma's daughter, joined the Joy dynasty and revised and updated each subsequent edition until 1975. That edition was the first after Irma's death and was completely Marion's. Her son, Ethan Becker, has returned the book to the family's voice, revising the 1975 edition for the 75th Anniversary Edition.

Holiday baking favorites include this Joy of Cooking recipe for chocolate bark and chocolate clusters‘Tis the holiday baking season, so you won’t want to miss these seasonal favorites to include in your pretty cookie tins. From Joy of Cooking.

Joy of Cooking

Joy of Cooking

by Irma S. Rombauer

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About 1 1/4 pounds
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Coarsely chop or grate:
1 pound (1/2 pound for clusters) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

Set aside two ounces of the chocolate and place the rest in the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over, but not in, a pot of gently simmering water. Melt the chocolate slowly, stirring, until its temperature reaches 105° to 115°F. If you do not stir constantly at temperatures over 100°F, the cocoa butter will separate out. Transfer the chocolate to another bowl and cool to 100°F. Add the reserved chocolate and stir until the temperature cools to a maximum of 86°F for milk and white chocolates and 90°F for dark or bittersweet chocolate.

Stir in:
2 cups finely chopped dried, candied, or crystallized fruit, candied ginger, and/or nuts

Stir to coat the fruit and nuts thoroughly.

For bark, spread the mixture about 1/4 inch thick on the lined baking sheet. Tap the pan on the work surface to release any air bubbles.

For clusters, use a tablespoon to drop the chocolate mixture onto the baking sheet.

Refrigerate the bark or clusters until firm, about 15 minutes. Then let stand in a cool place for 30 minutes to 1 hour to set completely.

To break the bark, hold the chocolate with the foil to avoid getting fingerprints on it, and break it into bite-sized, irregular shapes. If the bark is too hard to break with your hands, place a sheet of foil on top and hit it with a wooden spoon.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

Photo courtesy John Becker

Recipe excerpted from Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker. Copyright © 2006 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Excerpted with permission by Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.


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