We salute the Dallas County Master Gardeners Class of 2016, who have already contributed 5002 total hours to Dallas County at a value of $118,000. 20 interns of that class have already each volunteered 100 hours or more! After a year filled with 72 hours of class time and at least 72 hours of volunteer work, 47 members of the Class of 2016 have graduated to become Certified Master Gardeners!
The Master Gardener Program is a volunteer development program offered by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, which is designed to increase the availability of horticultural information and improve the quality of life through horticultural projects. What really sets Master Gardeners apart from other home gardeners is their special training in horticulture. In exchange for their training, persons who become Master Gardeners contribute time as volunteers, working through their local Extension office to provide horticulture-related information to their communities. The Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills is just one of many Master Gardener projects that enrich the community and provide opportunities for volunteers to continue learning and share their knowledge with the public.
We recently celebrated the graduation of these newly minted Master Gardeners with a ceremony and reception, where we served this gluten-free dessert. We received so many requests for the recipe that we thought we would share it with you all. We usually share garden-inspired recipes here, but you could say this is “gardener-inspired.” I make batch after batch of this at the holidays – it looks so pretty packaged in a cellophane bag tied with a ribbon. And it’s always nice to be able to offer something gluten-free for your guests that might have food sensitivities. Make this easy bark any time!
Festive Chocolate Bark
1 cup shelled salted pistachios (about 1/2 pound if you’re starting with nuts in the shell)
12 ounces semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips work fine)
8 ounces white chocolate
3/4 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
If using raw pistachios, sprinkle with salt and lightly toast the nuts on a baking sheet in a 350⁰ oven for about 10 minutes and allow to cool.
Melt the semisweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, uncovered, on medium power for 2–3 minutes, stopping the microwave to stir once or twice. If using baking squares, chop them up to help the chocolate melt more uniformly. Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth. Melt the white chocolate separately following the same directions for 1–2 minutes, taking care not to overheat.
In a small bowl combine nuts and cranberries, then stir half of them into the semisweet chocolate. Using a spatula, spread the mixture to about a 1/2-inch thickness on a large cookie sheet. Drop the white chocolate by tablespoonfuls over the dark. With the tip of a butter knife, swirl the chocolates together to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle on the rest of the nuts and berries and lightly press them into the chocolate mixture.
Refrigerate the bark for about an hour or until firm, then break into pieces. Store the bark in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month (I find it keeps for much longer). Makes about 1 3/4 pounds.