This entry has a double purpose: the first is to provide a recipe that is friendly to lactose intolerant individuals (that anyone will enjoy!), and the second is to mention that it is important to show people that you love and care about them, even before Valentine’s day has come. If you have a friend or relative that you sense needs some good cheer, make them a batch of these hearts! You don’t have to wait until Valentine’s day to pass out the love.
I’m lactose intolerant, and I’m sure my fellow sufferers can sympathize when I say my pantry is packed with dairy free desserts; restaurant menus are usually crammed with lactose heavy items like ice cream, tiramisu, and Crème Brûlée– so when I get home, it’s usually time to raid the kitchen for a little something sweet.
My quick go-to dessert items? Dark chocolate and dried fruits (unsulfured): apricots, Medjool dates (if I want to eat like royalty), apples, raisins, pineapple, ginger, pears… you name it, I’ve likely got it in my pantry.
My methods of consuming these items varies: sometimes I put dried fruit (like an apricot) in between two small squares of dark chocolate and eat it like a petite sandwich; sometimes, I eat a bite of fruit, and then a bite of chocolate; and, sometimes, I melt the chocolate via bain-marie, and dip the fruit into the chocolate (fondue style).
I recently experimented with a new method of eating this fruit and chocolate combination: chocolate bark with dried fruit sounded like a good plan, but then I saw some heart molds, and the idea formed to make dark chocolate hearts with beautiful, fiery red goji berries pressed into them.
But, of course, the store was out of goji berries.
Plan B went into action:
I recently discovered freeze dried berries, and the raspberries and strawberries looked festive in their gorgeous red and pink hues. I used these in place of the goji berries.
The consistency of freeze dried berries is so delicate that they can easily be crumbled into dust. Intrigued by this, I separated the berries into small plastic bags and crushed them by hand into two separate rough powders (strawberry and raspberry). I then melted dark chocolate by placing it in a bowl over a pot of boiling water (bain-marie style, just as one would for chocolate bark).
I sprinkled the dried fruit powders into my molds and then poured my smooth, melted chocolate over the berry dust and into the molds, before topping off the chocolate with more dust.
The chocolates then sat at room temperature for around forty minutes, until they were solid enough to pop out their molds.
There are a few things to note:
- Read the labels on dark chocolate bars or chips that you buy, it’s surprising how many have dairy in them!
- If you are not lactose intolerant, you can easily make the hearts with milk chocolate or a chocolate of your choice.
- Some alternative ideas for the toppings: goji berries, cranberries, cherries, regular dried strawberries (if you are not a fan of freeze dried). You could also use coconut, apricot, dried bananas, even mix in some nuts! Try a sweet and salty approach by adding salted peanuts, cashews or almonds.
- If you don’t have molds (I used silicone ones), not to worry! You can easily make this into festive chocolate bark by pouring the chocolate onto parchment paper using the same method you would with the molds.