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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Dark Chocolate

Cointreau Chocolate Ganache

Marc J. Sievers

A really good chocolate ganache is a fabulous recipe to have in your arsenal of quick and easy desserts because once it is made it has so many uses.  It can be used to glaze shortbread cookies, rolled into truffles, served warm over ice cream, used for chocolate covered strawberries, glazing cakes and cupcakes, or even whipped in a stand mixer until light and fluffy to use as a ganache frosting!  My Cointreau Chocolate Ganache is flavored with orange liqueur and Cognac, adding sophisticated (and boozy!) flavor of sharp orange and the warmth of Cognac, both of which happen to pair perfectly with dark chocolate.  Best of all, it takes just a few minutes to make and instantly makes even the simplest garnishes feel special and soirée-ready!


Cointreau Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients (makes 2½ cups)

  • Dark Chocolate – 1 pound, finely chopped

  • Heavy Cream – 1 cup

  • Honey – 4 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Vanilla – ¾ teaspoon, pure extract

  • Orange Zest – 1 ½ teaspoons, finely zested

  • Cognac – 2 tablespoons (Remy Martin 1738 recommended)

  • Orange Liqueur – 3 tablespoons (Cointreau recommended)

  • Shortbread Cookies – store-bought (Walkers brand recommended)

Directions

  1. In a heat-proof bowl set over barely simmering water, heat the dark chocolate, heavy cream, honey, and salt until just melted, stirring occasionally.

  2. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, orange zest, Cognac, and Cointreau. Stir to combine.

  3. Drizzle ½ of each shortbread cookie with just enough chocolate to coat it. Set each coated cookie onto a paper baking cup that has been flattened. Garnish with more orange zest if desired. Allow the ganache to set at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.

Tip: Stirring the ganache as it cooks with help make it shiny when it is used as a glaze, making for a professional and dramatic presentation.  The ganache will stay fresh in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.  

Idea: Once the shortbread cookies set, do not refrigerate.  Store them tightly wrapped at room temperature.  

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Herbes de Provence Chocolate Truffles

Marc J. Sievers

 

The dried spice blend Herbes de Provence is such a fabulous ingredient to have on hand!  This South of France signature seasoning is a blend of aromatic spices such as lavender, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, tarragon, parsley, fennel seed, marjoram, and sage.  Traditionally, it is used to flavor meats, poultry, and vegetables, however, I have used it in soups, breads, and now as the star (yet unexpected!) ingredient in my Herbes de Provence Chocolate Truffles!  I just love how the savory blend of herbs compliments the intensity of the dark chocolate and natural sweetness of the heavy cream – a match made in confectionary heaven!  Serve these sophisticated chocolates with a bold red wine, very dry Champagne, or alongside a cheese plate for an exciting twist!


Herbes de Provence Chocolate Truffles (makes 12-14 truffles)

Ingredients

·       Dark Chocolate – 6 ounces, finely chopped

·       Heavy Cream – ½ cup

·       Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted, at room temperature

·       Herbes de Provence – 2 teaspoons, dried

·       Cocoa Powder – ⅓ cup, unsweetened (Pernigotti recommended)

Directions

  1. In a small sauce pan set over medium heat, add the heavy cream and Herbes de Provence. Bring to just under the boiling point, then turn off the heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, place the chopped chocolate and butter into a large glass bowl. Set aside.

  3. Bring the heavy cream infusion back up to just under the boiling point. Using a fine mesh sieve strain the mixture over the chocolate, pressing down on the herbs with a wooden spoon making sure to extract all of the cream. Stir until completely smooth. This creates the ganache base.

  4. Place the ganache into the refrigerator to firm up, about 2 hours.

  5. Place the cocoa powder into a shallow bowl. Using a 1-inch scoop or tablespoon, scoop out balls of ganache and place onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

  6. After you have scooped all the ganache, roll each one by hand into a ball and then roll each truffle through the cocoa powder to coat.

  7. Arrange on a serving platter, or place into an airtight container. Truffles can be stored for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

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Dark Chocolate & Salted Caramel Tartine

Marc J. Sievers

When I am hosting a party, I am always looking for impressive yet easy things to serve my guests.  I love when a recipe calls for both salty and sweet ingredients, like my Dark Chocolate & Salted Caramel Tartine!  The salty butter and salty caramel, bold flavor of the chocolate, and crunchy cashews are the perfect combination to satisfy even the pickiest of palates!

Serve this tartine as part of a cocktail soirée, cut in bite-sized pieces, or as a dessert.  Plan for one tartine per person.  Or just make one for yourself and enjoy it with a glass of red wine or champagne – c’est parfait!   

A tartine is a French open-faced sandwich, like the Italian version of a bruschetta, that can be topped with anything truly fabulous and flavorful.  Creating a tartine can be as easy as going through your pantry and refrigerator and choosing ingredients that will pair well and compliment one another.  The most important ingredient is the bread!  Try to choose a bread that is hearty, crusty, and full of flavor like a Tuscan Pane – my favorite bread for a tartine – keep the plain white bread for homemade breadcrumbs!


Dark Chocolate & Salted Caramel Tartine

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • French Boule – 1 large slice, lightly toasted and fully cooled (you can also use Sourdough, Wheat, or Tuscan Pane)

  • Salted Butter – 1 tablespoon, at room temperature

  • Dark Chocolate – 1 tablespoon, 72% cacao, shaved

  • Roasted Cashews – 1 tablespoon, unsalted, rough chopped

  • Fleur de Sel Caramel – 2 teaspoons, at room temperature, favorite store-bought brand

Directions

  1. Spread the butter evenly onto one side of the cooled, toasted bread.

  2. Sprinkle the shaved chocolate and cashews evenly onto the buttered side of the bread, and then drizzle with caramel.

  3. Lastly, cut into desired sized pieces and serve.

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Bistro Salad

Marc J. Sievers

This year Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday.  Though it is a holiday in my head, it is still a regular workday for most of us.  But, it also promises to be a great start to a romantic weekend.  With that in mind, I want to keep the kitchen time down to a minimum on Friday so that I can kick off my “Valentine’s Weekend” doing what I love most—spending time with my Valentine.

What to do when you want to have a romantic night in sipping Champagne and gazing into your beau’s eyes, but still make a fabulously-delicious dish?  Using a few classics from the traditional Valentine’s Day pantry I created my delicious Bistro Salad, and it assembles faster than Cupid’s arrow can find its mark.

My Bistro Salad combines sweet honey, tangy goat cheese, strawberries, and chocolate making it the perfect romantic (and quick!) dinner on the Day of Love.  It takes just minutes to assemble and will pair perfectly with a bold Cabernet or crisp glass of bubbly.  Most importantly, it will give you the latitude to enjoy a rich and decadent dessert without robbing you of your sense of romance!  Whether you are spending this day with friends or your special someone, I hope the day brings love, hugs, and champagne.  Eat well, laugh often, and above all share the love, for Cupid’s sake!


Bistro Salad

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Greens – 5 ounces, rinsed and well-dried

  • Goat Cheese – 3 ounces, crumbled

  • Strawberries – 1 cup, hulled and quartered

  • Sliced Almonds – ¼ c cup

  • Pistachios – ¼ cup

  • Honey – 3 tablespoons

  • White Balsamic Vinegar – 3 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Dark Chocolate – 3 tablespoons, 72%, shaved with a vegetable peeler

Directions

  1. Place the greens in a serving vessel of your choice.

  2. Evenly distribute the strawberries, nuts, and goat cheese over the greens.

  3. Drizzle the honey and balsamic vinegar over top. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chocolate.

  4. Serve immediately.

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Deux Madeleine

Marc J. Sievers

Every recipe I write always has a story behind it.  Whether it’s from a childhood memory, something I have tried at a restaurant, or even from a particular type of music I’ve heard, I am constantly on the lookout for new inspiration!  Just a few days ago I was shopping with a friend at a cookware store when I stumbled upon a madeleine pan that was on sale (like seriously on sale!), and my imagination started running wild with ideas of different flavor combinations.  I put the pan in my basket and continued shopping.

My friend instantly started telling me stories about her many trips to Paris and how lovely all the madeleines are.  Her story telling was so detailed, I could almost picture myself walking down the streets of Paris and popping into bakeries to try these amazing little cakes.  I was making her dinner that night but asked if it would be OK if we skipped dinner and I just made her madeleines instead?  I think you know her answer!

After a few rounds of testing different flavors (and a few bottles of wine!), my recipe for Deux Madeleine was complete!  These amazing delicate little cakes are lightly flavored with almond and some with almond, pistachios, and chocolate.  The batter is so simple to make and can be flavored so many different ways.  In fact, from start to finish you will have fresh madeleines in under an hour!  I hope my little story of inspiration gives you the courage to try something new and different, especially this recipe.  Happy baking!


Deux Madeleine

Ingredients (makes 22 - 24 cakes)

  • Flour – 2/3 cup, all-purpose, plus more for dusting the pan

  • Baking Powder – ¼ teaspoon

  • Butter – 1 stick, unsalted, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing the pan

  • Eggs – 2 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Almond Extract – 1 teaspoon

  • Sea Salt – ⅛ teaspoon

  • Powdered Sugar – 1 cup, plus more for dusting

  • Pistachios – 2/3 cup, roughly chopped

  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips – 2/3 cup

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Butter and flour a standard size madeleine pan.

  3. Start by sifting the flour, sea salt, and baking powder into a small bowl. Set aside.

  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs and almond extract on medium-high speed until it thickens, about 5-6 minutes.

  5. Reduce the speed to medium and gradually add the powdered sugar. Beat an additional 5 minutes.

  6. Turn off the mixer and gently fold in the flour mixture, then the melted butter. Mix until smooth.

  7. Allow the batter to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  8. Next, Spoon the batter into the wells of the pan, filling about ¾ full.

  9. Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the cakes to cool for 3 minutes in the pan. Then remove the cakes and allow to fully cool (fluted side down) on a wire rack.

  10. Wipe out the pan, flour and butter the wells, and repeat the steps above until all the batter has been used.

  11. Dust with powdered sugar and serve at room temperature.

  12. Madeleine’s can be stored in an air tight container for up to 3 days.


Pistachio & Chocolate Madeleine

  1. Follow the steps above.

  2. After filling each well with batter, sprinkle evenly with chopped pistachios and follow baking and cooling instructions.

  3. In a heat-proof bowl set over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate chips, stirring occasionally.

  4. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

  5. Place the melted chocolate into a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip.

  6. Drizzle the chocolate over the cooled madeleine.

  7. Allow the chocolate to fully set before serving or storing.

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Fig & Stilton Salad

Marc J. Sievers

Whenever fresh figs are in season and available at farmers markets, I always get so excited for the endless possibilities for cheese plates, salads, and desserts!  My Fig & Stilton Salad combines a unique flavor combination of Black Mission Figs, Stilton, and dark chocolate all dressed with an orange vinaigrette.  This is the perfect salad with a glass of champagne or Sauvignon Blanc while dining al fresco during the last few weeks of summer.  Just add a fresh baguette and some honey butter and voila, you have a chic and delicious salad for your guests.


Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Orange Zest – 1 tablespoon

  • Orange Juice – 1/3 cup, freshly squeezed

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Sea Salt – 3/4 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 3/4 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Olive Oil – 3/4 cup

  • Arugula – 5 ounces, washed & drained well

  • Black Mission Figs – 8, quartered

  • Pecans – 1 cup, halved

  • Stilton – 3/4 cup, crumbled

  • Dark Chocolate – 4 tables, freshly grated

  • Fleur de Sel – for garnish

Directions

For the Orange Vinaigrette:

  1. Combine the juice, zest, honey, sea salt, and black pepper into a glass bowl. Mix until well incorporated.

  2. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.

  3. Set aside.

For the salad:

  1. Toss the arugula with the vinaigrette and arrange on a large serving platter or bowl.

  2. Evenly distribute the figs, pecans, Stilton and dark chocolate over the dressed arugula.

  3. Garnish with Fleur de Sel.

  4. Serve immediately.

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Orange Petits Fours

Marc J. Sievers

I was so excited to have my fabulous friend Holly over the other day to finalize testing my recipe for Orange Petits Fours!  She loves food, wine, and life as much as I do.  We both agree, these are little cakes filled with the perfect amount of sweetness and decadence.  The cakes are beaming with citrus flavor, while the ganache has just the right amount of edge from the Grand Marnier.  After we baked and decorated almost 100 of these little cakes, Holly took over and shot this amazing photo!  I opened a bottle of Côtes du Rhone, poured two rather-full glasses, and we toasted to a job well done!  Thank you Holly for all the fun in the kitchen!

These are the perfect little sweet-treats for any soirée!


Ingredients

Batter Ingredients (makes 55 individual cakes)

  • Butter – 1 stick, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Sugar – 1 cup, granulated

  • Eggs – 2 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Orange Zest – ¼ cup, freshly grated, plus more for garnish

  • Orange Juice – ¼ cup, freshly squeezed

  • Flour – 1 ½ cups, all-purpose flour

  • Baking Powder – ¼ teaspoon

  • Baking Soda – ¼ teaspoon

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Buttermilk – ¼ cup PLUS 2 tablespoons, at room temperature

  • Vanilla – 1 teaspoon, pure extract

  • Honey – 2 tablespoons

Orange Syrup Ingredients

  • Sugar – ¾ cup, granulated

  • Orange Juice – ¾ cup, freshly squeezed

Dark Chocolate Ganache Ingredients

  • Dark Chocolate – 1 pound, finely chopped

  • Heavy Cream – 1 ½ cups

  • Grand Marnier – 4 tablespoons

  • Honey – 4 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

Directions

Batter

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 24 count mini cupcake pan.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add the eggs, 1 at a time allowing each to fully incorporate. Then add the orange zest.

  4. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

  5. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, honey, and vanilla.

  6. With the mixer set to low speed, add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.

  7. Using a 1 ¼ inch metal scoop, fill the wells with a level scoop of the batter.

  8. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes in the pan.

Orange Syrup  

  1. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar and orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.

  2. After 10 minutes remove the cakes from the pan, place them on a wire rack set over a sheet pan lined with plastic wrap, and spoon 1 teaspoon of orange syrup over each little cake. Allow the cakes to cool completely. TIP: Spooning the warm syrup over warm cakes will allow it to be absorbed better.

  3. Next, Wash, dry, butter and flour the mini muffin pan and repeat the same steps above until all the batter and orange syrup is used.

Chocolate Ganache

  1. In a heat-proof bowl set over barely simmering water, heat the heavy cream, honey, dark chocolate, and salt until just melted, stirring occasionally.

  2. Remove from the heat and add the Grand Marnier. Stir to combine.

  3. With the little cakes still set on a wire rack over a sheet pan lined with new plastic wrap, drizzle the top and sides of all the cakes with the warm ganache. Garnish with more freshly grated orange zest and insert a party pick into each cupcake for easy serving. Allow the ganache to set completely. Do not refrigerate.

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It's FIG-alicious!

Marc J. Sievers

Like many of you, I have been enjoying farmer's markets all summer!  This time of year Black Mission Figs are just about everywhere.  They have a very delicate texture, small crunchy seeds, a sweet-earthy flavor, and a vibrant pink-colored interior.   I recently wrote a recipe for BlendAbout.com highlighting these delicious figs in my Fig & Stilton Salad recipe.  The response was so great that I wanted to write two more recipes showcasing this beautiful fruit and very similar ingredients, showing you how layering ingredients in different ways can create a whole new dish!

Since I love rustic and earthy food I wanted to create a bruschetta with figs.  I started out with some of my favorite ingredients like baguette, basil, and Spanish onions.  After a few rounds of testing (and eating!), my recipe for Rustic Fig Bruschetta was finished!  It’s loaded with caramelized onions, garlic, Stilton, figs, and some other lip-smacking ingredients!

Next, I wanted to create a canapé that would be perfect for a summer cocktail soirée with champagne, of course!  Since the interior of a fig is so beautiful, I wanted to showcase both the color and texture.  I always keep my favorite black pepper water crackers on hand, and I knew instantly that I wanted to balance the slightly spicy cracker with a bit of sweetness and fresh flavors.  My Fresh Fig Canapé is both visually beautiful and flavorful, it’s sure to be a smash (darling) at your next gathering.

I hope my recipes for Fig & Stilton Salad, Rustic Fig Bruschetta, and Fresh Fig Canapé show you that it only takes a few fresh and quality ingredients to prepare beautiful, elegant, and simple dishes!  Next week I have some FABULOUS breakfast dishes to share with you!  How does Orange Custard French Toast and Orange Summer Pound Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze sound?!  See you in a week!  Sending love from my kitchen to yours!


Rustic Fig Bruschetta

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Spanish onion – 1 ½ cups, thinly sliced

  • Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons, divided

  • Butter – 2 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Sugar – 1 teaspoon, granulated

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, roughly chopped

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Black Mission Figs – 5 medium, cut ¼-inch thick

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Demi baguette – cut in half length-wise

  • Basil – ¼ cup, freshly chopped

  • Stilton – 1/3 cup, crumbled

Directions

  1. Start by heating the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a 12-inch sauté pan set over medium-low heat.

  2. Add the onions, and cook for 20-22 minutes or until the onions are very tender and caramelized.

  3. Next, add the salt, pepper, sugar, and garlic and cook for an additional minute, being very careful not to burn the garlic. Remove from the heat and set aside.

  4. Preheat the broiler.

  5. Using the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, evenly butter each cut-side of the baguette. Place prepared baguette onto a baking sheet.

  6. Place under the broiler and cook until golden brown on top, about 2 to 4 minutes.

  7. Remove from the broiler and set aside.

  8. Lastly, layer each half of the baguette with the onion mixture, cut figs, and Stilton. Evenly drizzle with honey.

  9. Place under the broiler again, until the cheese is nicely melted, about 1 to 3 minutes. The edges of the bread can burn easily, so make sure to keep your eye on it.

  10. Lastly, remove from the broiler and top with fresh basil.

  11. Cut into large pieces and serve immediately.


Fresh Fig Canapé

Ingredients (serves 10 - three per person)

  • Black Mission Figs – 8 medium, cut ¼-inch thick

  • Stilton – ½ -inch sized crumbles, 30 total pieces

  • Basil – 30 small fresh leaves

  • Dark Chocolate – 1/3 cup, freshly grated

  • Black Pepper Water Crackers – 30 (plain water crackers will also work)

  • Black Pepper – for garnish, freshly cracked

  • Honey Comb – ½-inch sized pieces, 30 total (regular honey will also work)

Directions

  1. Simply layer each cracker with a slice of fig, a piece of Stilton, a piece of honey comb, a basil leaf, a small pinch of black pepper, and top with a sprinkling of dark chocolate.

  2. Arrange on a silver platter or flat board.

  3. Expand recipe as needed.

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Roasted Savory Carrots

Marc J. Sievers

Carrots get a rustic and chic makeover!

With Easter right around the corner, I’m sure many of you are in the midst of planning the menu!  While I still prepare many of my families traditional recipes, I am always looking to reinvent a classic, like carrots.  My recipe for Roasted Savory Carrots combines flavor like honey, basil, lemon and dark chocolate, what a combination!  Roasting the carrots also helps bring out the natural sweetness and earthy flavor.

Not only are these perfect for Easter or when hosting company, but they are a fabulous addition to any casual weeknight meal.  The steps are simple and the ingredients are found at your local grocery store, making this the perfect elevated home-cooked recipe!


Roasted Savory Carrots

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • Carrots – 2 pounds, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and then in 2-inch pieces

  • Butter – 3 tablespoons, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Honey – 4 tablespoons

  • Olive Oil - 3 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Basil – 3/4 cup, freshly chopped, divided

  • Lemon – 1 medium, zested

  • Dark Chocolate - 4 tablespoons, freshly shaved

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. On a sheet pan, toss the carrots, olive oil, salt and pepper until evenly coated.

  3. Place into the oven for 30 minutes, tossing once during the cooking process.

  4. In a large bowl combine the lemon zest, honey, butter and 1/2 cup of basil. Add the carrots and toss until evenly coated.

  5. Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of basil. Garnish with chocolate shavings.

Serve warm and enjoy!

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Craquelins Savoureux (Savory Crackers)

Marc J. Sievers

Craquelins Savoreux

Like many of you, food is constantly on my mind.  To be more specific cheese and chocolate!  I am always trying to invent dishes that can be made in just a few minutes, all the ingredients can be found at your local grocery store, and will impress guests.  My Craquelins Savoureux is a delicious combination of Gruyere, dark chocolate, basil, honey, and a crisp cracker.  It fulfills both the sweet and savory side of cravings and also makes for an elevated presentation.  Best of all, this recipe involves zero cooking, so it's great for weeknight entertaining!  You can even individually wrap the components and bring them to a pot-lock (with a bottle of wine), just don't forget a serving tray.  Happy indulging!


Watch my very first webisode of From My Kitchen to Yours on YouTube in which I feature the Craquelins Savoureux:


Craquelins Savoureux

Ingredients (serves 10, expand recipe as needed)

  • Gruyere Cheese – 6 ounces, cut into 30 thin slices

  • Dark Chocolate – 3 ounces, rough chopped

  • Basil – 30 small fresh leaves

  • Water Crackers – 30, plain

  • Honey – In a squeezable container

Directions

  1. Simply layer each cracker with a slice of Gruyere, a basil leaf, a dollop of honey (about the size of a nickel), and topped with a piece of dark chocolate.

  2. Arrange on a serving platter or flat board.

Tip: You can substitute the plain honey for fresh honey comb for added elegance!

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