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Make-Ahead Gifts for the Holidays: Chocolate Nut Bark

This recipe for chocolate, peanut and cranberry bark is easy and doesn't require a candy thermometer!

Just about everyone on your holiday gift list would appreciate a home-made item including this chocolate and peanut bark - a very addictive combination of salty and sweet.

This makes a great gift to make now for neighbors, friends, co-workers and others.

Even though you are making candy, this recipe doesn't require the fuss of a candy thermometer. Anyone who has tried candy-making and failed knows that a simple recipe is certainly welcome at the holidays.

Chocolate, Peanut & Cranberry Bark

2 T brown sugar

3 T corn syrup

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

2 cups salted peanuts (keep whole)

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup dried cranberries, if large, cut in half

1/2 tsp. espresso granules (optional, but it brings out the chocolate flavor)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place a piece of parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Add the peanuts and toss well, coating them completely.

Pour the mixture on the prepared pan and bake for 10-12 minutes. Watch this carefully - you want the mixture to be a deep golden brown, but not burnt.

Remove from oven and let cool.

Place semisweet chocolate chips in a large microwave bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir. This should melt them completely.  If not, microwave in additional 10-second intervals until melted, stirring after each heating.

Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with a piece of waxed paper.

Add to the melted chocolate the peanut mixture, cranberries and espresso granules. Stir well, coating every piece in chocolate.

Spread evenly on the wax-paper lined pan, in one layer. Refrigerate until set.

When ready, break bark apart in uneven pieces, or cut with a large knife.

You can place pieces in individual gift bags or on a holiday plate, add some ribbon and you are done!

Adapted from a recipe in Good Housekeeping Magazine.

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