Chocolate Almond Cranberry Bark

Up until recently, I’d spend much of the holiday season racking my brain trying to come up with great presents for my family members, friends, co-workers, and so forth. But a couple of years ago, I had the idea to forego store-bought gifts in favor of homemade candy.

Now I will say that from a time-related perspective, this move didn’t do me many favors. Making batch after batch of candy and confections is a time-consuming process, and then once the stuff is made you still have to package it up all nice and pretty. But from a crowd-pleasing perspective, homemade candy for the holidays is one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. And although candy-making does take some time, most of the recipes I use are super easy. And as an added bonus, you get to keep some of the candy for yourself, or at least taste little bits and pieces along the way.


Chocolate Almond Cranberry Bark


2 cups dark chocolate morsels or melting discs
2/3 cup slivered almonds, plus another 1/4 cup for topping
2/3 cup dried cranberries, plus another 1/4 cup for topping


  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Melt the dark chocolate using either a double boiler or your microwave at 50% power for 30-second increments. Pay attention to your chocolate and remove it from the heat once it’s mostly melted. Leave it too long, and your chocolate will seize.
  3. Once melted, mix in 2/3 cup almonds and 2/3 cup dried cranberries.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, using the back of a spoon or a spatula to spread it evenly.
  5. Quickly sprinkle the remaining almonds and dried cranberries on top.
  6. Place the baking sheet in the fridge and leave for at least one hour to set. Use your hands to break up the set mixture into fun, festive pieces of bark.

Oatmeal Muffins With Dried Fruits and Pecans

I’m a big fan of muffins. I mean, all you really have to do is call a cupcake a muffin, and you can totally get away with eating it for breakfast.

But while I have to admit that some muffin recipes pack a bit too much early-morning sugar even for a sweet tooth like me, these muffins are, objectively speaking, perfectly breakfast-appropriate. They’re not super sweet, but the combination of dried fruits brings a lot of flavor to the table.

You can definitely feel free to substitute the dried fruits I used for others you might prefer. And if you’re not a fan of pecans, you can get away with using walnuts instead—though I think the pecans work wonderfully.


Oatmeal Muffins with Dried Fruits and Pecans
Adapted From Simply Recipes

1 cup of traditional rolled oats
1 cup AP flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup chopped prunes
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup buttermilk**
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with baking cups.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
3. Stir in the pecans and dried fruit.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, buttermilk, egg, and vanilla.
5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula or spoon, stir the mixture together gently until just combined.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
7. Let the muffins sit in the pan for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

**Don’t have buttermilk on hand? Just pour a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into a measuring cup, and then add enough milk to bring the mixture to the one-cup mark. Let it stand for about five minutes, and then you’re good to go.