Someone recently asked me what inspires me to cook. I suppose for anyone who feels most at home in the kitchen, it’s a combination of things: the desire to recreate familiar flavors; a need to use ingredients up; and a wish to make something seen, whether it’s at a restaurant, in a cookbook, or a friend’s recent culinary project. I was invited to a holiday party Sunday and as soon as I saw these beautiful cookies (from one of my favorite San Francisco bakeries, Craftsman and Wolves), I knew I wanted to recreate them. I planned on making them with orange zest and using candied rosemary instead of edible flowers, to give them a sort-of realistic wreath look. I was so excited, but as I planned to prepare them, I realized a fatal flaw in my idea. I don’t have a mixer! Just one of the downsides of moving across the globe without all your belongings! And while there are plenty of things you can make and bake without a mixer, cookie dough is not one. (You need the butter and sugar to cream properly for the ideal texture.)
And so it was back to square one of inspiration. Luckily for me, I have tons of recipes on my to-do list, and this easy chocolate bark my friend Kimberly shared last week came to the rescue. As for the flavor additions: I had some coconut to use up, wanted to keep the orange zest I originally wanted for the cookies, and love the crunch of almonds with dark chocolate. The espresso powder is thrown in for good measure, adding a nice earthy bite. Of course this recipe can really be used with anything; other favorite flavor combinations include pistachio, cherry, and white chocolate and cinnamon, milk chocolate, hazelnuts. If you’re still looking for a treat to add to the holiday cookie plate, it’s an easy way to use up what’s in your cupboard. Hope you enjoy and happy holidays!