Written by: Natalie Faella, MS, RDN, LDN | April 12, 2022
As previously mentioned, I love all things chocolate. Chocolate chip cookies, double chocolate chip cookies, Reeses, M&Ms - you name it! That's why dark chocolate bars are a staple in this house. They're my go-to for lunch and dinner dessert, and a great addition to a snack of nuts and dried fruit. I buy a bunch of different dark chocolate bars like ones with salted almonds, caramel, espresso beans, and mint, or may opt for just the plain 72% cocoa bars. There is usually a variety on hand :)
Lately, I've been incorporating more nuts and seeds into my diet to get a boost of some skin-loving nutrients like selenium, vitamin E, and zinc. Brazil nuts are an excellent source selenium, which is important for thyroid health and acts as an antioxidant in the body. It's also been shown to play a role in treating acne due to its anti-inflammatory effects. Pistachios are also chockfull of nutrients like vitamin B6, which has many important functions like aiding energy metabolism, blood flow, and boosting mood; and vitamin E, which also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that benefit both our skin and immune system. And we can find zinc in our pumpkin seeds, which aids our immune system and skin/wound healing.
All nuts and seeds are great sources of fiber, healthy fats, and protein. They're also delicious, which led me to think "wouldn't some of these taste good in a chocolate bar?" And hence, the Brazil nut, pistachio, and pumpkin seed bark was born.
So not only is this bark delicious, it is nutritious, too! (Dark chocolate is also a great source of antioxidants along with nutrients like magnesium and iron. OK I'll stop with the nutrition facts for now).
The salty-sweet taste and crunchy and smooth textures make for a super satisfying dessert. Another added bonus is this recipe was super quick and easy to make. I made this bark during my lunch break and enjoyed some for dessert shortly after.
Here's the recipe!
2 Cups Dark Chocolate Chips (I used this whole bag of Trader Joe's 72% Dark Chocolate Chips)
1 Cup Brazil Nuts
3/4 Cup Pistachios (shelled)
1/3 Cup Pumpkin Seeds (I used Aurora's Raw Pumpkin Seeds from Whole Foods)
Sea Salt to Taste
You'll need: a 9x9 baking dish or any size cookie sheet and parchment paper.
Melt chocolate chips. I create a "double burner" by placing a glass/heatproof bowl on top of a pot that contains about 1 inch of water. You'll need to keep the burner on the lowest setting and keep occasionally stirring chocolate chips to prevent burning. I first pour in 1 cup of chips and as they get about halfway melted, I add in the second cup. There are other ways to do this as well - check out this video for how to melt chocolate. I used the double boiler method mentioned in this video (without adding oil).
While chocolate is melting, measure out your nuts and seeds and place them into individual baggies. Use a meat mallet to smash each bag until nuts and seeds are in smaller chunks (see picture below). You can also skip the baggie part and just chop your nuts and seeds into smaller wedges. (Given my knife skills, I felt like the smashing was safer!).
Once the chocolate is melted - no chocolate chip chunks left - it's time to mix in the nuts and seeds. We're going to save some to garnish on top, so mix in about 80% of your Brazil Nuts and stir until they are completed coated in chocolate. Then add in about 80% of your pistachios and stir until coated. Then about 80% of your pumpkin seeds and stir until coated.
Line a 9x9 baking pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out your chocolate, nut, and seed mixture onto the parchment paper and gently spread until there is an even coating of the mixture about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. This will take up about the whole 9x9 baking pan.
Sprinkle on the remaining nuts and seeds evenly on top of the bark. (You can use a piece of parchment paper to gently press down on the nuts & seeds on top to get them to adhere to the bark). Sprinkle sea salt evenly on top of the bark.
Refrigerate the bark in the baking pan for 20-25 minutes or until it is solid. Lift parchment paper to take the block of bark out and place it on a cutting board. Cut the bark into as many pieces as you'd like! (Check out the pictures below to see what 28-32 pieces look like.)
Store in Tupperware or a zip lock bag in the fridge and enjoy!
Save your leftover nut crumbs!
Chopping/smashing nuts and seeds will create some crumb-like pieces. Instead of discarding these little nuggets of nutritional goodness, save them in a ziplock bag and add to your oatmeal, or banana muffins.
Take a look at the process:
Brazil nuts, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds measured:
Bagged pistachios ready to be smashed. (Did I mention this is also great for stress relief?)
Smashed nuts & seeds ready to go!
Meanwhile, the chocolate chips were melting in my double boiler...
Smooth, melted chocolate ready for the chunks of nuts & seeds:
All nuts mixed in and coated with chocolate:
Baking pan lined with parchment paper. (Pro tip: use tape to keep edges in place!)
Nutty chocolatey goodness spread out in pan:
Topped with remaining nuts & seeds:
Solid block after about 25 minutes in the fridge:
Chopped into 28 pieces:
Chopped into 32 piece! (Halved the last row that was a little bigger)
Side view - look at all those healthy little nuts!
One more pic for good measure:
If you try this recipe, let me know what you think in the comments or reach out on the contact page! And subscribe to stay tuned for more recipes and more of my anti-diet approach to nutrition, health, & wellness.