For those of you that follow me on social media, you likely see that I spend a fair amount of time at the Terranea Resort here in the LA area. (Full disclosure, I was selected as one of 5 influencers to be a 2016 Terranea Resort Social Media Ambassador, but my love for this place runs deep and far beyond that title.) I truly feel that Terranea is one of Southern California’s best kept secrets, yet it really shouldn’t be. Terranea sits on the coast in Rancho Palos Verdes, about 15 miles from our front door in Long Beach. The 102-acre private peninsula paradise, is like stepping into a whole new world – minutes from the bustle of Los Angeles. Surrounded by the tranquil waves of the Pacific, the coastal setting of Terranea embraces the California lifestyle and it’s Mediterranean heritage. Regardless if you are a guest at the resort the sprawling land is all open to the public, so you are free to walk the ocean-side trails, dine at the many restaurants, plan a spa day or just enjoy the views.
While we have spent several nights at the Terranea Resort for staycations and for various culinary and/or wine events, we also celebrated my birthday with friends over the champagne brunch and often Mark and I go just for the day, hiking the trails, we love to hit the coffee shop and grab a cup of joe and catch the sunset or have a relaxing afternoon at the spa. But personally as a lover of incredible food, hitting one of the 8 incredible restaurants for a meal is what really keeps me continuously coming back. It probably won’t be long before I am on a first name basis with some of the staff. The entire resort is extremely gluten-free accommodating and aware and beyond that, there is a strong focus on locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients with sustainability being a major backbone of their culinary approach. Much of the ingredients are actually grown in the resorts vary own gardens, they source citrus from trees on the land, herbs from wild growing plants and they even have their own beehives for honey.
As part of the ongoing commitment to sustainability and the resort’s Farm-to-Terranea philosophy, Terranea is home to it’s very own Sea Salt Conservatory. Created from sea water from the Pacific, right at the resort, the sea salt conservatory serves as a natural evaporation greenhouse resulting in a high quality, mineral-rich signature sea salt. Terranea Resort’s Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra and his staff collect the seawater from local kelp beds about 20 yards from the shore, which Ibarra believes imparts a unique flavor.
This lovingly crafted sea salt is used throughout the resort’s restaurants, making appearances in savory dishes from brunch to grilled meats, as well as various desserts and several signature cocktails, it’s even used in various scrub treatments at the spa. Terranea offer’s smoked salt, as well as various flavor infusions using locally sourced ingredients like Meyer lemons, rosemary and sage.
As a nutritional therapist, a suggestion I often make to my clients is the inclusion of a pinch or two of high quality sea salt to their filtered drinking water at some point throughout the day, as a means to bring in trace minerals like magnesium and potassium, as well as an aiding in the balance of electrolytes. Terranea’s sea salt comes with a very high quality rating (97 out of a 100) and it’s found right here in my own back yard.
As a real-food-loving, recipe developer, highlighting this beautiful, locally sourced sea salt in my recipes runs the gamut from savory recipes to cocktails and most especially for my preferences as a garnish on sweet things. This homemade dark chocolate bark features seasonal flavors and it’s finished off with a sprinkle of the infused sea salt, my most favorite being the House-Smoked Signature Sea Salt. With the holidays upon us, this winter-spiced dark chocolate bark recipe is perfect for indulging on your own, a great option for your dinner guests or even better, packaged up with a little handmade label for a thoughtful, edible handcrafted holiday gift.
The customized toppings on this bark can vary to reflect your personal tastes or that of a gift recipient, mix and match nuts and fruit to create a unique experience with every batch. In addition to fabulous flavor the smoked sea salt on top of the bark offers a lovely aroma that pairs nicely with the warming spices and the rich dark chocolate. I made this batch with toasted pistachios and dried currants. My other favorites are cranberries, golden raisins, pecans and pepitas.
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Winter Spiced Dark Chocolate Bark with Smoked Sea Salt
- 12 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, I recommend 85% dark, roughly chopped
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch ground cloves
- ½ cup mixed toasted nuts and/or seeds, such as walnuts, pistachios, pecans, almonds, pepitas, etc
- ½ cup mixed dried fruit, such as raisins, cranberries, currants, cherries, quartered figs, or quartered apricots, etc
- Terranea House-Smoked Signature Sea Salt, to taste
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Melt the chocolate over a double boiler using hot but not boiling water or in the microwave in 30 second increments or a chocolate melter. However you melt it, stir regularly as you are melting the chocolate. Keep the chocolate under 90ºF, so that it doesn’t seize up on you. If on the stove top, you can remove from the heat if necessary, as you go.
- As the chocolate is melting, stir in the coriander, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Mix in well to combine.
- Once fully melted, pour the chocolate onto a foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Using a rubber spatula or offset spatula, spread the chocolate evenly until it is about 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick, or as thick as you want it to be.
- Sprinkle any nuts, seeds and dried fruit you are using, evenly over top the melted chocolate. Let the chocolate solidify just a bit before sprinkling the Terranea House-Smoked Signature Sea Salt on top.
- Let the bark cool at least 2 hours in a cool area or 30 minutes in the fridge. Break into bite-sized pieces.