Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Spicy Chocolate Bark, A Recipe

Today, I am overjoyed to introduce to you another new and amazing contributor to MommyMaestra. Angelica is a 12-year-old homeschooler from Texas who dreams are filled with pastries and chocolate. She has agreed to contribute to MommyMaestra once a month, thereby fulfilling her writing requirements in a fun and creative way. The photo, article, and recipe below are her own original work.

I love baking, cooking, and creating recipes with chocolate. I cannot imagine walking into the kitchen to bake and not have access to chocolate. Chocolate makes everything sweeter. Ask any kid. I have never met any kid or adult that would turn down a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie, steaming cup of hot chocolate, or chocolate covered strawberry.

We recently researched chocolate as part of my baking curriculum and what I learned really changed my outlook on this amazing ingredient. We all know of how chocolate was brought to Europe by the conquistadores. The Aztecs idolized chocolate. Chocolatl derived from the Nahuatl word Xocolatl was served during important ceremonies and was given to the soldiers to improve their stamina, helping to fight off fatigue. What I wanted to find out is how chocolate found its way into our kitchen.

Chocolatl derived from the Nahuatl word "xocolatl" made up from the words "xococ" meaning sour or bitter, and "atl" meaning water or drink. 

What I learned is that between Central Mexico and western Honduras cacao was taken to another level for cooking. At the time the only part of the cacao that was eaten was the white pulp. Not wanting to waste any part of pod, the seeds were treated as they would treat all produce. The pumpkin seeds, chiles, and extra corn left from harvest were left in the sun to dry, and then roasted on a comal to grind for cooking. A technique used for produce transformed cacao from a bitter taste to sweet paste. The heat from the sun and the roasting on the comal released the natural oil from the beans. Grinding the beans with its oil created a sweet paste that was formed into little balls to dry for later use. This development opened the window for experimenting with chocolate. Herbs, flowers, spices, and honey were added to create new flavors of chocolate. This method is still used today in Mexico.

How lucky we are to have this gift from our past. For our past to give us a wonderful treasure to enjoy daily makes me treasure chocolate even more. I wanted to share a simple recipe that highlights the flavors of that day when cacao was first laid to dry in the sun next to pumpkin seeds and chiles.

Spicy Chocolate Bark

12 ounces dark chocolate or semi sweet chocolate
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¾ teaspoon Mexican cinnamon, grated with a zester
¾ teaspoon ancho chile powder, plus more for garnish
½ cup pumpkin seeds

On a baking sheet toast pumpkin seeds at 350 degrees for 4 minutes. Cool.

Melt chocolate. Add spices and more than half of the pumpkin seeds.

Stir to incorporate the spices. Spread chocolate on wax paper. Lightly press the left over pumpkin seeds and sprinkle ancho chile for color.

Freeze for 5 minutes or until chocolate sets. Break into pieces. Serve.

Store in fridge.


Angelica ~ A 12yr old homeschooler with dreams of becoming a pastry chef. 
Addicted to comics, food network, and carnival rides, Angelica loves taking over her mom's kitchen. She is currently working on perfecting her pie crust while her family reaps the benefits. You can find her sharing her baking skills over at Sweet Life.


  1. Wow! 12-years-old? This post gives me so much hope for our future (concise and articulate, I love it!).

    Angelica, keep up the wonderful work! Look forward to reading your future contributions to MommyMaestra.

  2. wow! I love the ingredients and I love the story behind the receipe! excellent job! thanks for sharing!

  3. Very good. Congratulations to Angelica. And to MommyMaestra for giving this opportunity.

  4. Uh, this 12-year-old writes better than some adults I know. Great job and congrats Angelica!

  5. That's sounds like me when I was 12.... already obsessed with cooking/baking. Good for her!

  6. Ditto the comment about, 12 yrs. old? Brava to Vianney for raising such an articulate, curious girl, Angélica! Really really like these young guest post voices!

  7. Chuls, - sounds like you could easily take over the kitchen and blog duties in your house... hey, you better watch out, your mommy just might hang the apron on you for good... very good article and I learned and enjoyed from it

  8. Thank you for encouraging me to nurture and make space in the kitchen for my children! I love the gorgeous flavours in this!

  9. I enjoyed reading about the history of chocolate and I love your recipe. Thank you!

  10. Excellent blog post, worthy of an "A+"! :) My favorite part is that this recipe "highlights the flavors of that day when cacao was first laid to dry in the sun next to pumpkin seeds and chiles."

  11. oh this bark looks amazing. Your mom was right- we wouldn't be disappointed following you over here. I can't wait to make them!

  12. Fantastic story and very yummy recipe!!
    Thanks for sharing with us.

  13. Angelica, much great success to you!

    You are a great writer ... and cook!

  14. What a wonderful backstory to a delicious treat!! Looks great :)

  15. Sounds like a great way to incorporate chocolate in my diet! This could be the perfect snack.

  16. Angelica I know your dreams of becoming a pastry chef will come true. I can see the your passion for baking through your writing. Thanks for the lesson on chocolate.

  17. what a wonderful addition to the blog! a kid that loves chocolate and knows how to write! she's going far in life! Love the bark!

  18. What a fantastic recipe and story of chocolate. Great writing! With recipes like this you'll make one heck of a pastry chef. I've got to make it!

  19. You had me at chocolate! Love it :)

  20. Bravo, Angelica you have a beautiful writer's voice. Thank you for sharing that voice and your recipe with us. These would make great Christmas party hostess gifts. Gracias!


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