Dark chocolate cherry almond bark. (Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Dark chocolate cherry almond bark. (Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Give your Valentine a chocolate gift that’s also good for the heart

This recipe is a luscious way to celebrate your love, or at least your love of chocolate, in a way that loves you back.

It has just four easy-to-find ingredients, each lending its own sensuous element and remarkable health benefits. Rich, dark chocolate, with its intoxicating melt-in-your mouth quality; a touch of fragrant grated orange zest; a generous helping of crunchy almonds; and chewy, sweet-tart dried cherries all bring a considerable dose of health-protective antioxidants along with their flavor. The almonds and cherries add essential nutrients and longer-lasting satisfaction, to boot.

Making this candy is almost as easy as eating it: Just melt the chocolate, stir in the zest, pour into a parchment-lined pan and scatter with the fruit and nuts. (You could swap in any nut and dried fruit you like or have on hand.) Let the candy set in the refrigerator for an hour, then break it into pieces.

It’s a simple, but delightful, Valentine’s Day gift that is good for your heart in every sense of the word.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Bark

This luscious candy is not only easy to make, it’s also good for you. It’s loaded with health-protective antioxidants and essential nutrients, for a treat you’ll love that loves you back.

Make ahead: The bark needs about an hour’s refrigeration to set. Store it at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

1cup whole, skin-on almonds

12ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped (60 to 70 percent cocoa solids, or bittersweet)

1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

1/3 cup tart dried cherries (coarsely chopped if they are large)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pleat a 22-inch-long piece of parchment paper lengthwise to make a 9-inch-wide strip, then fit it into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish like a sling, pressing the paper into the corners to line the bottom and the 2 short sides of the pan. (The paper should overhang the two short sides.)

Spread the almonds on a baking sheet; toast in the oven for 7 or 8 minutes, until fragrant. Let them cool.

Place about three-quarters of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot with a few inches of barely bubbling water (over medium or medium-low heat). Heat, stirring, until the chocolate has melted. Transfer the bowl to a folded dish towel on the countertop. Add the remaining chocolate, stirring until melted, then stir in the orange zest.

Pour that chocolate into the lined baking dish, and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly. Scatter the toasted almonds and dried cherries over the top, then refrigerate for 1 hour, just to set.

Remove the chocolate from the baking dish and discard the parchment. Cut or break up the bark into 24 pieces that are about the same size. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Makes 24 pieces.

Nutrition per serving, calories per piece: 120, total fat: 8 grams, saturated fat: 3 grams, cholesterol: 0 milligrams, sodium: 0 milligrams, total carbohydrates: 11 grams, dietary fiber: 2 grams, sugar: 7 grams, protein: 2 grams

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