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  • Mary Kay

Love That Valentine Heart Bark!

"14 Days of Angels Baking Valentine Memories!"

This is a last minute LOVE Valentine that you can put together for that someone special.

Or, make it ahead for a Valentine party. It’s easy and takes only a few minutes to assemble, and a few more for the chocolate to set.

I bet many of the items are already in your pantry or stashed in the back of your cupboard. If not, they are certainly available at a grocery store near you. Just gather them up and assemble. No long-term baking – just warm the chocolate so you can swirl it.

To begin with, you’ll need a pan or dish shaped like a heart. If you don’t have one, don’t despair. Use a small non-stick cake pan, like an 8”x8” size. You can always make a big heart swirl in the middle of the square pan.

Make sure you have 2-3 of big bars of chocolate – the larger bars of milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate. Use name brand candy or melting bars or melting bark. If you have a favorite, use it.

After that, it’s pretty much up to what YOU want to put in the melted bars and how you want to arrange it. I use some heart shaped chocolates, red and pink melting candies, rough chopped pecans, a few cut up caramels and pink sprinkles. I also like to sprinkle some flavored fresh whole coffee beans or grind them on top.

Maybe you want to use cut up mini-candy bars to incorporate your special someone’s favorite flavors or even pink, red and white M&Ms.

Or, if you want to get away from the chocolate theme, sprinkle sweet sugary gummies, sour worms, or other varieties of candies.

This serves a variety of people, depending on their chocolate addiction or if they are on a weight loss diet.

Preheat the oven to 200F degrees.

Prepare your pan:

- Lightly spread some butter on the bottom and side of the pan. Mine is a 9”x 5” heart-shaped, covered tin that I saved from a box of chocolates a number of years ago. You could buy a heart-shaped metal or flexible plastic pan, but why spend money on a heart-shaped pan for a once-a-year holiday when you can spend it on chocolate?

- Line the pan with parchment paper so it overlaps the top edges. The butter helps hold the parchment paper in place while you are arranging the chocolate pieces and when you are spreading it after it has melted.

- The parchment paper also allows you to lift the entire chocolate creation out of the pan in one piece after it’s cooled.

Chocolate up those Ingredients:

1 4-oz Milk chocolate bar

1 4-oz Dark chocolate bar

1 4-oz White chocolate bar

3 Heart-shaped chocolates

Red, white and/or pink melting candies

1 t Sugar sprinkles, pink and sparkly

10 Pecan halves, broken in half or quartered

2 Caramels, cut in small pieces

10 Coffee beans, whole or fresh ground.

Assemble your Bark Heart:

- Break up all three chocolate bars into 2-3” pieces and lay in the parchment paper lined tin. They can overlap, but arrange them in a random pattern since you’ll be swirling the colors into each other. You probably won’t use all three bars entirely. You might have enough to make another bark heart. (If you want the finished bar thicker, use more chocolate bars.)

- Put it into the preheated 200F degree oven. It’s low so you don’t bake the chocolate, just heat it so it melts.

- Watch it closely and pull out of the oven to test it for swirling. I have left it in about 2 minutes before I swirl.

- When it’s at the swirling point, take it out of the oven and swirl the colors into each other with the tip of a table knife. Don’t swirl it too much or the colors will be less distinctive.

- In the meantime, melt your candy melts in separate little bowls in the microwave, according to directions on their packages.

- While the chocolate is still soft, arrange the heart-shaped chocolates, pecans, and caramel pieces and coffee on top. You may want to press some items down and leave others on top of the chocolate to give it more dimension. Press some items in at an angle to give it more interest.

- Drizzle some of each of the red, white and pink candy melts straight across the top or in circles or zig-zags.

- Lightly sprinkle the pink sugars on top.

- Place the chocolate tin in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or longer to make sure it has solidified all through.

- When it has completely solidified, take it out of the refrigerator and lift it out of the tin.

- Remove your masterpiece and place it in a special gift box with a big bow. Display it on a platter with more chocolates plus fresh fruit around it. Or show it off under a big glass dome.

- Keep it in a cool place and HIDE it until you’re ready to serve – it’ll easily break into pieces for all the chocoholics to enjoy.

- This is a quick, easy to make, delicious last minute Valentine’s Day gift. Enjoy it with a special friend or family.

TIP: I usually just buy one bag of red melting candies and one bag of white melting candies. I make the pink by mixing a few red with a couple white candies to get a lighter red or pink. Left over candy melts last a number of months if bagged and sealed.

Use your imagination to create your own version of this Valentine’s Heart Bark. Experiment with different colors, different types of chocolate and different flavored candies. Or, try imbedding colorful edible flower petals (make sure they have not been treated with pesticides). Use some of your favorite cookies broken up on top of the bark. Create a vignette with the chocolate pieces. Don’t worry - if something doesn’t work out, you can eat your mistakes. It’ll never go to waste. After all, it’s about creating and “Baking your own Memories!”

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