And … It’s Christmas

November 30, 2008


During our Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday afternoon, somewhere between the ooh’s and ahh’s and mmm’s and chatter and laughter, a silence settled over the table. Maybe it was turkey coma or maybe the frenetic holiday pace was taking its toll. Whatever the case, the silence didn’t last long. Soon, a cheerful Christmas carol wafted into the dining room from a stereo in the next room. I put down my fork and said, “And … it’s Christmas!”


I was only partly kidding. The holiday season is in full swing and I’ve been whisked up in it. Thanksgiving has melted into Christmastime and that means one thing: it’s time to bake. Candies, cookies, caramel corn, sweet-and-spicy nuts. Really, anything that can be slipped into a glassine bag, tied with a shiny ribbon and bestowed upon your favorite someones.


So, I have to admit that midway through Thanksgiving dinner I was already daydreaming about holiday baking. Shameful, I know. I’ve got a baking list a mile long and this past weekend I supplemented my pantry with bars of chocolate, bags of billowing flour, fresh baking powder, a new bottle of vanilla and assorted other ingredients that will become necessities in the coming weeks.


I won’t be baking the candy you see in this post—dark chocolate-cherry bark—because my mom made it for Thanksgiving and my family already enjoyed it. So we already know that it’s festive and pretty, simple and delicious, studded with chewy dried cherries, bits of crystallized ginger and meaty toasted walnuts. I can say with authority it would make an excellent addition to your holiday cookie tray.

Now, do tell: what do you all have on your holiday baking lists?

Dark Chocolate Bark with Walnuts & Dried Cherries
Food & Wine

Printable Recipe

1/2 cups walnut halves (6 ounces)
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup dried sour cherries (4 ounces), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes, or until golden and fragrant. Let cool, then coarsely chop.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. In a glass bowl, heat two-thirds of the chocolate in a microwave oven at high power in 30-second bursts until just melted. Stir until smooth. Add the remaining chocolate and stir until melted. Stir in the walnuts, cherries and crystallized ginger until evenly coated. Scrape the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it into a 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Refrigerate for 10 minutes, or until firm enough to cut.

Cut the bark into 48 pieces (6 rows by 8 rows) and transfer to a plate. Serve cold or at room temperature.

14 Responses to “And … It’s Christmas”

  1. Aggie Says:

    I love making biscotti around the holidays and giving them away…it’s such a nice treat! And you can do so many different versions!

    Love that bark! And I’m going to check out your pistachio cherry white chocolate biscotti! 🙂

  2. Amanda Says:

    Oh lord, I think the more appropriate question is what am I not baking?! Cheesecake (the recipe I have is so good), pies, cakes, muffins, cookies. You name it, I’m down. I just hope I have enough time between graduation, finals, and my birthday. Did I mention that December is my favorite month?!

  3. Monica h Says:

    For gifts, I’m making chocolate and peanut butter truffles and cranberry/pistachio/white chocolate biscotti.

    But I plan to bake many other cookies and cakes.

  4. sammyw Says:

    This looks perfect for gifts! I have all these ingredients in my pantry! Thanks!!

  5. sue bette Says:

    I am not much of a baker, but I am resolved to change that! The last issue of Gourmet had some amazing cookie recipes so I may start there. I am looking forward to following your baking adventures for further inspiration!!

  6. Aggie: That white chocolate biscotti is so perfect for the holidays! The link, for anyone else who is interested, is here.

    Amanda: Only a California girl could call December her favorite month. : )

    Monica h: Delicious line-up!

    sammyw: Great point — I would usually have these ingredients (or some approximation of them) on hand too.

    sue bette: Grrr, my issue of Gourmet still has not arrived. I have a feeling I’ll find lots of additions for me list when it does finally get here.

  7. Dawn in CA Says:

    Last Christmas, I made marshmallows with my (then) 6 year-old son. They were so fun and delicious, we might have to make them again. Only maybe dip them in chocolate this time. 🙂 We used a recipe from the French Laundry that I found on line — so easy. Makes way more than 12 marshmallows, unless you like your marshmallows HUGE. 🙂

  8. megan Says:

    i am DEFINITELY bookmarking this one-it’ll make a yummy holiday gift to whip up for all my girlfriends. thanks for sharing!

  9. ronnissweettooth Says:

    Funny, I’m going to do a dark chocolate bark with dried cherries and pistachios. I haven’t tried it before, but it’s impossible for it to be bad.

    I’m also going to do a cinnamon granola from Cooking Light.

    And the usual assorted drop cookies. I stocked up on butter two weeks ago when it was on sale.

  10. Ingrid Says:

    Looks good!

    I too have a mile long list of baked goodies that must be made and packaged up. *sigh* Where to start? Good luck with yours and can’t wait to see what ones you blog about!

  11. Whitney Says:

    My finally got my Gourmet in the mail yesterday. Gotta love the Chicago postal service 😛

    I have a lot of different cookies recipes that I am going to try once I am done with finals next Friday! I will just have to find lots of friends to give them away to 🙂

    The chocolate bark looks amazing.

  12. culinarycory Says:

    These look simply wonderful!

  13. Andrea Says:

    Gorgeous! These just made it to my Christmas baking list… 🙂

  14. Dawn: Hmmm, I’m skeptical that the French Laundry’s marshmallows are easy, but now you’ve got me tempted!

    megan: Oh good! And I love the idea of pistachios, for both the color and taste.

    ronnissweettooth: Stocking up on butter! Brilliant! And pistachios are also a fantastic idea. I passed them along to megan, above.

    Ingrid: I have to start the 12 days of cookies soon or I’ll be blogging about cookies into January!

    Whitney: I got it the same day! FINALLY. Good luck with finals!

    culinarycory: Thanks!

    Andrea: Oh good! Let us know how it turns out.

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