Thirteen years ago, I moved to the South Shore because I love the mountains and I wanted to transition from magazine health journalist to cookbook author. I did that. But every winter I wonder, “What am I doing here?” because the thing is, I’m not a snow bunny. I do not like walking like a penguin on black ice, shoveling snow, breaking nails on firewood and paying high utility bills. So, I get hit with cabin fever and fantasize about moving to Hawaii or back to San Francisco, spots known for sweet chocolate in all forms. But the power of chocolate (it boosts feel-good endorphins like exercise) came to the rescue here at Tahoe, too. I’m talking dark and milk chocolate, nuts and marshmallows. It was this yummy treat that got me through the ups and downs of waiting for our next snowfall. On my one to 10 disaster scale, the drama was about a four. But still, it wasn’t fun for this city girl.A few days ago, as the temperature got warmer the ice on the rooftop melted down on the deck. Drip, drip, drip onto the wood outside of this Old Tahoe cabin. I’m talking mega meltdown with ice dam effects. After a few phone calls, I got it. I was on my own. One snow removal guy via phone quipped, “If you don’t like snow, why did you move here?” I bit into a fresh piece of chocolate bark and thought, “I dig the trees.” Another older snow man was sweet to me. He said, “Dear, boil some water.” Then, his easy instructions followed. He promised the hot liquid would melt the pile of towels and cat litter that stuck to the wood (I used these late at night to create traction) as well as the huge ice mound sitting on the deck outside the doorway. He forgot one thing. His perfect recipe took an hour. But it worked. And I celebrated with another chunk of chocolate I made for days like this.Rocky Road Bark 7 premium baking chips, 60 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate 7 ounces premium baking chips, milk chocolate 1 cup miniature marshmallows1/2 cup pecans, chopped (place in plastic bag and use a hammer to crush into bite-size bits)Melt dark chocolate chips in a microwave for about two or three minutes, stir occasionally until melted. Stir the dark chocolate and spread it onto a nonstick flat cookie sheet (or line with parchment paper). Spread and shape into a rectangle. Chill in freezer for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, nuke milk chocolate chips. Once the chocolate is melted, stir in marshmallows and nuts. (Save half of the nuts for the top.) Take out dark chocolate from freezer and frost with rocky road mixture. Sprinkle nuts on top. Put back into freezer for 10 minutes. Take out and pick up the entire chocolate candy slab, place on a plate. If you use parchment paper, take off. Break into peanut brittle-like square pieces.Despite the fact that Rocky Road Bark got me through this Tahoe winter glitch, I still don’t like the icy days waiting for fresh snow. However, munching on the homemade treat somehow made me forget the grueling adventure. But there’s more. After making a fire to keep things toasty, the weathered fireplace iron screen handle broke. Thank goodness I made plenty of Rocky Road Bark. Note to self: Make another batch to get me through winter’s challenges until springtime. Motto: New and sterile homes lack character. To deal with older dwellings, it’s a must to have plenty of chocolate on hand.— Cal Orey, M.A., is an author and journalist. Her books include "The Healing Powers" series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. (The Healing Powers of Honey and Coffee are offered by the Good Cook Book Club.) “Animal Attraction: A Collection of Tales & Tails” will be released in 2013. Her website is www.calorey.com.
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