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Bittersweet Chocolate Maple Bark

This is recipe that feels indulgent but is packed full of healthful ingredients, and it just so happens to be directly from the pages of my Bobby Flay Fit Cookbook. Did you know that Bittersweet Chocolate (that is at least 71% cacao) is actually good for you? It’s true! Also on the ingredient list: Quinoa, Cashews, Apricots and Cherries. Here’s the perfect guilt-free snack for my fellow chocolate lovers… in just four simple steps.

Bittersweet Maple Bark with Quinoa, Cashews, Apricots & Cherries

Makes 12 pieces

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted or extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

½ cup uncooked quinoa

¾ cup coarsely chopped almonds

¾ cup coarsely chopped cashews

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, at least 71% cacao, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

¼ cup finely diced dried apricots

¼ cup chopped dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat (recommended) or parchment paper.

2  In a medium bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, oil, vanilla, orange zest and salt, and fold in the quinoa and nuts.  Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet into an even 9-inch square.  Bake in the oven until the quinoa and nuts are lightly golden brown and the mixture is crisp, about 25 minutes.  Remove to a rack and let cool.

3  Put a few inches of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Put the chocolate and espresso powder in a heatproof metal bowl and set the bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure that the water doesn’t touch the bowl. Slowly heat, stirring, cook until chocolate is smooth and shiny and just melted.

4  Remove from the heat and evenly spread the chocolate over the top of the quinoa crunch.  Scatter the apricots and cherries over the top and refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes.  Cut or break into 12 equal pieces. Store covered in a container for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.