Monday, January 6, 2014

Salted Pumpkin Seed Bark

Well, I spent Sunday getting ready to go back to the "real world"...work! I also spent the afternoon shopping and getting stocked up for the frigid weather we are expecting this coming week. The weather forecast this evening said it was supposed to be 22 degrees in the morning and drop to 18 degrees by afternoon. They are calling for single digit temps as low as 4 degrees on Tuesday morning with wind chills of -5 to -15 degrees F along with sleet and black ice. Now, I know from seeing the temps across the country that many of you are experiencing much lower temps than that...but for us Atlanta folks here...that is COLD!!! So, I did my "winter weather" shopping frenzy...and guess what? I realized another advantage of being wheat free...I only had to worry about getting eggs and not the milk and bread...LOL. I did pick up some heavy cream though (along with all the other usual things us wheatless folks eat). For dinner this evening, I fixed my low carb White Chicken Enchilada Casserole -- it is one of my favorites and since one of my sons was eating with us, I wanted to make sure he was well fed before tomorrow's frigid temps moved in...LOL. I made steamed broccoli to go with it and he had a great idea of spooning the extra cheese sauce over his broccoli since there is plenty of extra sauce in the casserole dish -- it was actually great and I will make sure I always serve broccoli with it just to have something else to hold all that tasty sauce.  ;-)  I made one minor modification to tonight's casserole by using shredded pepper jack cheese instead of monterey jack that goes inside the enchiladas with the chicken to add a little zip. I linked to the enchilada recipe above. The "recipe" I actually want to share with you is such an easy peasy one that it is almost embarrassing to call it a recipe...but since it is technically the combination of more than one ingredient that results in a different end product...I guess that's what this is...LOL. It's Salted Pumpkin Seed Bark...I know, kind of weird, right?  For the last few months, hubby picks up a bag of "Bark Thins" at Costco every couple weeks, which is simply salted toasted pumpkin seeds mixed with dark chocolate and cut into "bark". I tasted a little bite of it to see what it tasted like because it looks like super dark chocolate...but I could tell by the tiny piece I tried it was much sweeter than the 85% chocolate I typically eat. So, for months now, I have been watching him eat this bark stuff...and I really like pumpkin seeds (or pepitas as some refer to them). So today I decided that it would be ridiculously simple to make, so why not? Last week I picked up some toasted salted pumpkin seeds from Whole Foods...and I just happened to have some Green & Black's 85% chocolate bars in my pantry...and well, you already know what happened...LOL. As hubby pulled out his bag of "bark"...I pulled out my plate of "bark"...and I liked mine a whole lot better -- it wasn't pukey sweet like his! So, below is my "recipe" for Salted Pumpkin Seed Bark. Enjoy!

The bark from the bag is on the left -- mine is on the right
To make the bark thicker like that on the left, allow chocolate to cool and thicken slightly before pouring onto parchment paper to reduce the spread

BOOM!

Salted Pumpkin Seed Bark

Ingredients:

1 3.5-ounce bar of dark chocolate (I used Green & Black's 85% cacao), broken up
1/2 cup salted toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 teaspoon coconut oil, optional (I added it for glossiness)

Directions:

Place chocolate in a small bowl and melt in microwave for about 1-1/2 minutes, in 30 second intervals, stirring between each. Once melted, stir in optional coconut oil (if using) and pumpkin seeds.

Pour and spread out on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and refrigerate until hardened (to make thicker bark, allow chocolate to cool and thicken up a little bit before pouring onto parchment so it doesn't spread as much). Break into chunks and enjoy. Keeps best refrigerated.

*Note: I have used this method with other nuts (roasted almonds, coconut, etc.), so you can easily substitute seeds with your favorite nuts or coconut.

17 comments:

Jan Garin said...

Looks amazing and so simple. definitely making this!! :)

Ginny said...

You are quickly becoming my favorite blog! So glad you were featured on the Wheat Belly FB page!!! Can't wait to try this recipe.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks, Jan -- hope you enjoy it! :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thank you, Ginny! Hope you enjoy it -- it is almost too simple! ;-)

Sonshine Girl said...

This sounds awesome, and I just happen to have the ingredients. Making tonight!

CyberSis said...

Hi GGC,

That's COLD no matter where you live. We're expecting wind chills of minus 40 tonight. I can't even imagine what that is! It's nasty out, but just cold ... not nearly as bad as the sleet and black ice you're expecting on top of the cold temps. I think we got about 10" of new snow. At least that's over with but the wind makes it bad for blowing around and drifting. Had to go out this a.m. but will try to hunker down for the next day or so. Hope you're able to do the same!

The "bark" is great! I've done much the same with pecans, walnuts, coconut. Lately I've been trying to get a daily spoonful of coconut oil so I've been melting it, stirring in cocoa powder, a couple drops of stevia, a dab of vanilla, and nuts or coconut from the freezer. I just make one little batch at a time that way. I did get a Wilton silicon candy mold with a bunch of little cavities, but it works so well one "dose" at a time that I haven't used it yet. The frozen stuff sets up the oil/cocoa stuff almost immediately.

Actually melting a chocolate bar makes a better textured & richer flavored "confection" but the oil/cocoa mixture isn't bad for "medicinal" use. :-) I don't even bother with the stevia and vanilla any more ... the "medicine" goes down the hatch so quickly. If I were to make a bunch in my Wilton pan, I'd add them for a more "rounded" flavor.

On the other hand, maybe I'd better conserve my stevia ... I still have the "good" kind and when that's gone, it'll be *gone*!

Dove said...

I make candy like this a lot using nuts but haven't thought of using pumpkin seeds, although I love them. Thanks for the great idea

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Dove -- I've mixed chocolate with nuts and coconut before, too -- and I don't know what took me so long to finally mix it with the pumpkin seeds after watching hubby enjoy his "bark" for months! LOL :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi CyberSis! Your concoction actually sounds good. I should really try that some time and it sounds pretty simple, too. I know what you mean about conserving the "good stevia". I find myself using less to try and make it last longer. I ordered another kind of stevia today to try -- someone recommended stevita "spoonable" with stevia and erythritol. So, we will see what THAT has in it once it comes! I've even pulled my bottle of NOW stevia that I pushed to the back of the pantry almost 1-1/2 years ago after trying it and not liking it. But back then I was still comparing it to NuNaturals...now I am comparing it to a pipe-dream it seems...haha! I haven't gotten the nerve to try it again but I took it to work to try and force myself to use it since I only have enough liquid NuNaturals left for another yogurt or 2. I still have their original powdered pure extract at home that I use here. Watching my powdered stevia level go down reminds me of sand in an hourglass...only I don't get to turn the bottle over again. Wow...wind chills of 40 below -- I don't remember where you live (I think out west somewhere?). What state are you in with wind chills like that? Most of the schools in Atlanta have already decided to close tomorrow -- we just aren't prepared or equipped for those kind of temps or winter weather. Stay warm and I'll let you know how the stevia trials progress. I may need to pull out the lo han again, too. I only tasted it a time or 2 -- when you have something you like better, you tend to gravitate towards that one -- but since that isn't the case any more...I need to give it another try. :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks, Sunshine Girl -- hope you enjoy it -- now when hubby "barks"...I "bark back"...LOL :-)

CyberSis said...

Hi GGC,

I'm in Michigan ... *southern* Michigan, at that! Temps have been falling all day ... we're at minus 14 right now and still dropping. Someone said that since we had a relatively mild summer here we'd probably have a colder than normal winter. I'd say they were right on the money with that prediction.

LOL on the hourglass metaphor! Very appropriate! "Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our ... Stevia." :-) I don't think that hourglass ever got turned over either.

There's one caveat about the coconut oil. It's best to start out slowly if you're not used to it, otherwise there's a chance that it might cause temporary, but inconvenient, tummy troubles in some people. Dr. Perlmutter (Grain Brain) recommends one teaspoon per day as a good "maintenance" dose. I started out with that amount with no problems whatsoever, so I guess I'll just keep it there ... for the time-being, anyway. (I think the doc who is treating her husband's existing Alzheimer's is giving him 3 tablespoons.)

Stay warm and stay safe!

CyberSis said...

Tee hee ... does Spike bark back, too? :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi CyberSis -- I will make a point to start small with coconut oil like you did. We made it to 6 degrees last night and at lunch time now it is up to a sunny and balmy 17 (wind chill is 5 now). I am just not used to this kind of cold! Spike has been known to bark back on occasion too -- but not the kind you eat. :-)

bonnie nelms said...

hey GG
hope you see this even though almost 2yrs since last post.
i just read thru comments and am curious about your exchange w/cyber sis re stevia...which sounds as if what you were using and liked was about to disappear. you mentioned NuNaturals and it sounded like that's what you were referring to. that's what i use, in the liquid form, and it is still available...so could you fill me in as to what you were referring to.
thanks as always for your fab recipes!!!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Bonnie,

A while back, NuNaturals changed their formula for stevia and the newer version is no where near as good as it used to be. Many of their regular customers were very disappointed; not only at the change in formula but the fact it was never labeled as "new formula", etc. and it was drastically different than their original formula. Kal also did the same thing with their stevia and it, too, used to be a favorite of many people. That is what we had been discussing. :-)

bonnie nelms said...

thanks for clueing me in...that may well explain what happened for me. do you recall when formula changed? i kept hearing (maybe from you) about NuNaturals being so much better w/o that nasty aftertaste...so i ordered some and didn't find it so great as i had heard. maybe i only got the 'new' version. do you know why they changed formula? soo aggravating the way these companies do that.

and, as i sit here, the pumpkin seed/choc mixture is cooling off/thickening up before i pour it on sheet. thanks for reminding me about this oh so good treat!!! : )

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Bonnie,

Part of the problem was that they changed their formula but depending on where you purchased it from you may have still been purchasing the previous stock of the better old formula so some of us noticed it right away while others not for a while. Besides, I typically bought a couple at least at a time so I would still be using the old formula. It wasn't just them that changed their formula at that time.

You may have missed my special "stevia post" back in January 2014. Here it is: http://www.gourmetgirlcooks.com/2014/01/whats-in-your-stevia.html

I need to make the pumpkin seed bark again soon, too! Hope you enjoy it. :-)