Green Tea Chocolate Bark
Mostly, when menu planning, I give dessert an exemption from a dinner’s theme. So long as the sweet fits the balance of the meal–airy after something heavy, rich in the wake of something light, or easy after a main that requires full attention–there’s no imperative to seek total authenticity in terms of nationality or style or tradition.
That’s why I surprised myself when, tasked with bringing dessert to a sushi-and-soba dinner at a friend’s, I fixated on green tea flavors and couldn’t dissuade myself once I’d begun. On the Wednesday before, I ordered a supply of matcha online and started to brainstorm.
My mom helped. My first idea was a green frangipane tart with apples or pears. She bested me with a matcha meringue pie. I spent a lot of time picturing an emerald-hued coconut custard filling topped generously with swirls of billowy toasted meringue. I bookmarked the best coconut custard recipes. But then I wondered if I wanted to hide the green color, rather than show it off. And, would my friends endeavor to cut and eat a whole slice of pie after dinner on a Saturday night? After more reflection, the matcha pie seemed overwhelming and hard to transport. I stored the concept away for an afternoon barbecue at our place.
After cycling through cookie concepts and ice cream ideas, I ended up where I should have started: with my irresistible, addictive, and delicious old friend, chocolate bark. In addition to tasting great and looking charming, bark is an accessible dessert, meaning that even those who claim they didn’t leave room will try some. Like mini cupcakes, bark wants you to acquiesce, and saying yes is as easy as nibbling on piece after piece–far less daunting than cutting into a meringue pie.
By the end of our potluck, all the matcha bark was gone. How could it not be? The bitter, nutty taste of green tea makes otherwise dull white chocolate sparkle. The chocolate, in turn, mellows the tea. For texture, we’ve got crisp rice cereal and crunchy walnuts. You don’t have to finish with dark chocolate stripes, but I like the way they look.
- 1 pound best-quality white chocolate (contains cocoa butter), chopped
- 1 to 2 tablespoons matcha powder, to taste (or color)
- 2 cups crispy rice cereal
- 2 cups toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
- Sea salt
- A few handfuls dark chocolate (optional)
- Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a double boiler, melt the white chocolate, barely stirring. Remove from the heat, then stir until smooth. Add the matcha powder until it’s combined. Taste the bark to see if there’s enough green tea flavor for you – if not, add more. Stir in the cereal and the walnuts. The mixture will be thick. Spread the chocolate out onto the baking sheets, spreading to get as thin layers as you can. Sprinkle with a few pinches of salt. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes, until hardened.
- Melt the dark chocolate, then remove the bark from the freezer and use a fork to flick stripes unevenly across the surface of both pans. Return to the freezer for 15 minutes, or until hard. Break into bite-sized pieces. Store in the fridge until ready to eat.