Welcome to Steamy Kitchen!

Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Dark Chocolate & Toffee Macadamia Bark + Steamy Secret #1

Dark Chocolate & Toffee Macadamia Bark

With a photo like that, do I really need any words?!

I firmly believe that in order to start off the New Year properly, one must have chocolate. And lots of it.

Janet, wonderful customer of my husband’s company brought these Chocolate & Toffee Barks into the office a few months ago. While totally intended for Russ, one of Digital Doctor’s helpful techs, I snuck a piece.

Crunchy. Chocolatey, Nutty. Toffeeeey.

And then snagged another.

And shhhhh….another.

Crap. I was addicted, and had to email Janet for her recipe, partly because I needed to feed my new addiction…but mostly because I had to replenish the stash that I snuck. Surprisingly, it was no more than a handful of ingredients that I already had on hand and the only skill needed was stirring, spreading, chilling and eating.

Steamy Secrets to Becoming an Internet Food Stupidstar

Christmas Eve, as I was spreading the melted dark chocolate for these treats, I had an epiphany. As defined by Websters with my edit in red:

“a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience or SPREADING CHOCOLATE.”

Suddenly, the motion of spreading gooey heavenly chocolate was much more than just Step 3 of a recipe. IT WAS THE ANSWER.

What is it that transcends a normal food blog into Internet Foodblog Superstardom? Here’s the beginning of Steamy Secrets to Food Blog-Whoring.

Now, I know some of you are just food blogging to share with close friends, family and blog-friends. Great. But…some of you yearn for something a bit more…maybe the next level where you can actually make some moolah from blogging? Maybe a food career? Become a professional food blogger? Be a food blog stupidstar? Have a big ego? (check)

I really think that 2008 will the year of the food bloggers. Food reality competitions are soooo 2007, and the Food Network was soooo 2006. (well, for me, anyways. and i bet you one day, i might just eat my words).  My fav celeb chefs are the ones who make themselves accessible – Zimmern, Ruhlman, Greenspan, Gower, Nguyen, and others I’m sure I’ve left out. These are chefs who enjoy a dedicated, proactive, progressive and massively influential fans (psst…that us, the food bloggers.)

Here’s my take. If you’ve always had a dream to make a little splash in the food world, why not go for it in ’08?

Listen well, young grasshoppa. A blog-whore you shall learn to be.

First off, I’ve always said that any moron can come up with a recipe.

Case in point. The World Wrestling Federation has a friggin’ cookbook. Savory Smackdown? Seriously.

So, given that recipes are a dime a dozen, there is is an exception:

STEAMY SECRET #1: Post insanely irresistible, no-brainer recipes or tips

Like the recipe below, Dark Chocolate & Toffee Macadamia Bark, or maybe even Rolo Turtle Pretzels. Recipes that are so easy that a 4-year old can make it.

You see, these are recipes, tips and tricks  that are so simple, readers get an uncontrollable urge to just swiftly flick their wrist, and click on the del.icio.us button so that the link is safely tucked away for fu.tur.e re.fere.nce. These are also recipes and tips that popular food blogs, like Epicurious, Chowhound, SlashFood, The Ktchn, Stumbleupon and Lifehacker enjoy highlighting.

The lesson is to add value.

Great Cooking Tips. What’s a kitchen tip that saves you SO much money, time or hassle? How much time/money does it save? How did you come up with the tip? Give some practical applications. Remake Popular Recipes. Take a popular recipe and make it even better. Ok, so my No Knead Bread post didn’t really remake the recipe, but I bribed my son to be chef with a whale tattoo and showed that it was so simple that a 4 yr old could bake bread. Google “No-Knead Bread” and I think I come up #2. Anyone have a pet orangutan? Bread so easy an chimp could make it! (kidding guys…kidding)

      The #1 bread book on sale at Amazon right now is

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

      , based on the super popular No-Knead Bread recipe. But authors Zoey and Jeff took it a step further and adapted the technique with recipes for 100 different breads, including savories and sweets. I’ll be reviewing this book in the next week and will publish some of my results of their recipes. So, what are some of the most popular recipes that have been circulating the web…and how can you make it different/better/faster? An example is my

Lobster Mac ‘N Cheese


Wanna know what are popular recipes?

Young Padawan…No Longer.

When I started this blog 11 months ago, it was because of these wonderful, generous folks who inspired, nudged, cheered, befriended, laughed with and advised me.Some gave me a start in my food career. Others wooed me with food porn (and inspired me to be a food photographer). One special friend coached me on television presence and inspired me to garden. And my most dearest friends, Julie, Lisa and Kelly were my homegirl cheerleaders.

And hey, my turn to give back to this year’s crop of young padawans new food bloggers. Steamy Secrets will be an ongoing series as long as I have the brain capacity to continue. Next week, I’ll share with you my top secrets of food photography for people who ARE NOT professional food photographers (because I’m not one either!)

I’ll teach you how to take drool-worthy photos like this:

So, what Steamy Secrets would you like to learn? (ahem….about BLOGGING I mean)

Dark Chocolate & Toffee Macadamia Bark


Dark Chocolate & Toffee Macadamia Bark

Servings: 1 pound Prep Time: Cook Time:
Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 3.40.58 PM

A great treat that you can customize to your liking. Substitute with milk chocolate chips, those fancy white chocolate chips, pecans, walnuts, pistachios (ooooh that would be pretty).

note: the Dark Chocolate & Toffee Macadamia Bark takes 2 hours to chill.


½ box of graham crackers
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
½ lb butter (2 sticks)
3 cups dark chocolate chips (or your favorite chocolate bars, broked up in small pieces)
1 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts (or other nut if you prefer)


Preheat oven to 350F. Line a lipped baking sheet with a layer of tin foil. Arrange a single layer of graham crackers in the pan without overlapping. In a small saucepan, melt butter and add the sugars. Whisk to dissolve. Let boil and simmer for 5 minutes on low. Very carefully pour mixture onto the graham crackers, working quickly with a spatula to even out the layer. Bake 10 minutes. Remove and evenly spread out the chocolate chips and leave it to melt for 5 minutes. Using spatula, spread the melted chocolate evenly. Top with chopped nuts. Let cool. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Break pieces.

Share with the world.

61 Responses to “Dark Chocolate & Toffee Macadamia Bark + Steamy Secret #1”

  1. Suji — 1/1/08 @ 4:24 pm

    there goes my getting tummy back in shape. I so agree with you about new years and chocolate. I am having chocolate cup cake warmed with haagan daz’s coffee icecream. How bad am I?

  2. Rasa Malaysia — 1/1/08 @ 4:24 pm

    Hey, Rasa Malaysia is the GENEROUS one who inspired you, THANKS!

    OK, for your food porn how-to’s, I expect more than P and the wheel. Whahahahahaha.

  3. Mansi — 1/1/08 @ 4:27 pm

    Thanks so much Jaden!! I am sooooo looking forward to your phohtography guide:) finally someone listened to my request to give some pointers to newbies like us!!

    and thanks for sharing the secrets to become a successful blogger; if it’s just making recipes with chocolate, I’ll soon be a superstar:D

    Wish you and your family a Happy New Year!!

  4. Mer — 1/1/08 @ 4:40 pm

    Here’s hoping some of your photo tips can be achieved with my “point-and-shoot.” (Cause that is all that’s in the budget right now.) :0)

    I can’t wait to hear more of your tips on food blogging. One question I’ve been wondering about – most of my favorite food blogs have a white background. The format I chose is black. Is there a reason that the top food blogs seem to go white? Is it cleaner/brighter/more appealing to look at? Should I go through all the work to change mine? (Augh!) Any other tips on the website formatting side of this??


  5. Neece — 1/1/08 @ 3:57 pm

    Oh wow, I just gained 4 and a half pounds looking at those amazing pictures of ooey gooey bark!
    Great tips and recipe as usual!

  6. Ashley — 1/1/08 @ 5:40 pm

    Mmm that bark looks good. And I think I just killed my browser by opening so many of the links in this post! I look forward to the secrets you share. :)

  7. Helene — 1/1/08 @ 5:42 pm

    Ohhhh,yesss,more please!..chocolate is the next best thing to an orgasm and MORE available! I currently have a box each of Dove and my favorite..See’s, but I’ll make this bark this week. Great looking!

  8. Kat — 1/1/08 @ 7:00 pm

    drooling definitely! good tips too!

  9. JEP — 1/1/08 @ 7:04 pm

    “Steamy Secrets”…it doesn’t get any better than that!! I’m hopelessly hooked on your every word:) Loved every bite of your 2007 blog so bring on those secrets…

  10. Melinda — 1/1/08 @ 7:14 pm

    I don’t know Jaden. One of the things I like about unprofessional food blogs is that it is not so ‘slick and flawless’. I don’t necessarily want a glossy mag blog.
    I like the imperfect blog posts as much as I like seeing a fellow blogger succeed at something new.
    But, I probably am alone with this opinion.
    I love your humour, and would hate to see it cleaned up for a watershed audience when you go public cookbook writer.
    Love to know cooking secrets though!

  11. bb — 1/1/08 @ 8:19 pm

    Geez, great….now I’m hungry AND inspired. If I could only figure out which to feed first. Like hunger doesn’t ALWAYS win out!!
    BTW…will the toffee make my keyboard all sticky if I can’t stop eating while I blog???

  12. Deborah — 1/1/08 @ 8:24 pm

    I, for one, can’t wait for all of the steamy secrets!! Especially the photo tips…

    Thank goodness I don’t have a New Year’s resolution to eat better, because now I want to get in the kitchen and make some of this!

  13. Lisa — 1/1/08 @ 9:25 pm

    I’m with Melinda here — don’t tone it down too much, because your sense of humor really makes for a fun read, on top of the good food advice and fine photography. I also love it when you pimp your kids out, ’cause they’re cute.

    But blog on however you like, and I’ll await your steamy secrets with steamy bated breath (man, that sounds unappealing — bet you’re glad this is just cyberspace).

  14. Raquita — 1/1/08 @ 9:26 pm

    I am always in awe of the food porn here-I want to know how do you come up with the combos that you use – you always have such interesting combos.

  15. Cynthia — 1/1/08 @ 9:35 pm

    You, I cannot say enough good things about you. Really looking forward to this series. I’ve already learnt so much from reading this first post.

  16. Pritya — 1/1/08 @ 10:42 pm

    Hi Jaden,
    Thats a superb twist…intuition and insights with chocolate…he he…but that photograph is enough to knock out all wisdom and intuition out of the window, and just simply want it.
    As usual, your sense of humour makes reading your posts such fun.
    Have a super 2008.

  17. Kitt — 1/1/08 @ 11:04 pm

    Hey, cheers to you, Jaden! Thanks for the link.

    I’m looking forward to more photo tips; your pics are always so droolworthy. A good photo is much more likely to draw me into a site, pro or amateur, and make me want to try a recipe, so I’m constantly trying to improve my own.

    And speaking of droolworthy … that bark has me mopping my chin.

  18. Brian — 1/1/08 @ 11:53 pm

    Oh HELL yeah!

  19. That’s mighty generous of you. :-) Timely too, as I’ve decided to take my food blog to the next level. Yay!

    -A hungryforchocolate struggling blogger-

  20. Ironstef — 1/2/08 @ 12:20 am

    wow that looks good. REALLY good. thanks for the recipe and the tips!!

  21. Nags — 1/2/08 @ 12:37 am

    Yep i want to learn how to take yummy pics. is it all in the editing? or the camera? or the shot? ok ok, i know, you are gonna say combination of both. but i dont have photoshop and i am not good at editing beyond adding light, cropping and adding a frame to my pics. so..hmm.. HELP!!?

  22. Eileen — 1/2/08 @ 1:45 am

    Happy New Year, Jaden!!!!

  23. Joanna Dyckhoff — 1/2/08 @ 2:09 am

    Ew, I am lubbin’ it! You’re awesome!

  24. bhags — 1/2/08 @ 3:28 am

    Thanks Jaden for your food blogging tip series…its so heart warming to know that there si someone to help…:)
    i am looking forward to your photography tip series

    Happy new Year to you

  25. LunaPierCook — 1/2/08 @ 6:37 am

    One item that’s made this here food blog so popular, so accessible, so much fun to hit as often as possible, that you totally neglected to mention:

    Personality. Yours.

    When you end up in front of ABCs local cameras, the personality evident in the writing here comes through there as well. The fact that you’re so open with who you are, how you feel and what makes you happy … that’s really what makes Steamy Kitchen what it is.

    Can’t duplicate that …

  26. Maya — 1/2/08 @ 10:01 am

    Lets try this again. Congrats on the book deal!
    I am looking forward to photography tips..as you can tell I am no expert in that field ;)

  27. Carol — 1/2/08 @ 10:04 am

    I am all about the food porn, can’t wait for your photo tips. I think it is so great of you to share the secrets to your sucess!

  28. Burnt Lumpia — 1/2/08 @ 11:36 am

    You are a great Jedi Master. I will try and apply some of your tips and hopefully will move up from Padawan soon.

  29. This looks yummy! And yes, everyone should start their new year with chocolate and lots of it.

  30. Diane — 1/2/08 @ 2:19 pm

    Oooooo, that bark looks to die for! I wish I could reach into my screen and try a piece.

    Good luck with learning the secrets to photography for blogs. I gave up trying to post good pictures. That pic of the bark is great!

  31. KJ — 1/2/08 @ 2:42 pm

    I so enjoy your humor and combustions of inspiration! Your blog is a great detour from the paces of life! Thanks so much!


  32. Rina — 1/2/08 @ 3:46 pm

    What a lovely picture that is.. Happy new year!!!!

  33. Eric — 1/2/08 @ 5:09 pm

    Jaden, any chance in 2008 we can see a few recipes for single guys? You know, some dishes that apartment-dwelling bachelors can prepare for a more healthy diet and to impress girls? :) Happy New Year!

  34. Lisa — 1/2/08 @ 5:39 pm

    If you can teach ME how to take photos like you, I will bear your next 7 children. I’ll give you a pedicure a week! I’ll CLEAN YOUR BATHTUB.


  35. joanne — 1/2/08 @ 6:23 pm

    Oh good lord! I just ate a one pound box of See’s and now this? I guess I’m off to the store for some graham crackers.
    I can’t wait for the photo tips. I am a klutz with the camera. Too many options, I like the ‘Honey, could you set the camera options for me? I wanna take some shots of ….’ Now, if I could only get some darn natural lighting in my kitchen too.

  36. Sauce Piquante — 1/2/08 @ 8:13 pm

    Honey, I’ve been reading you for a while so I know you said something smart and or funny. Thing is, today I can’t see past that blasted chocolate…

    Curse you!


  37. Kevin — 1/2/08 @ 8:29 pm

    Those are drool worthy photos! Chocolate, macadamia nuts and toffee….mmm… Bookmarked!

  38. Lindsay — 1/2/08 @ 9:55 pm


    You had me at ‘dark chocolate’ but you just couldn’t leave it at that, could you?

    *sobbing and reaching for the printout*

  39. Rachel — 1/2/08 @ 11:14 pm

    Thanks for the tips. I can’t wait to see what you have to offer as far as food photography. That category is seriously lacking on my blog.

    Oh, and I think I have just enough chocolate left from the holidays to try those amazing looking bark.

  40. Jill — 1/3/08 @ 4:19 am

    Yum! I’ve had dark chocolate pistachio brittle but toffee and graham cracker with it is just brilliant! I think it would also be good with little pieces of candied ginger instead of nuts… a little bit like the Epicurious recipe for dark chocolate tart with gingersnap crust (sooooo good).

  41. Anali — 1/3/08 @ 11:48 am

    I’m loving your Steamy Tips! And congratulations on the book deal! I hope you have lots of sweets in your book too! : D

  42. Amy — 1/3/08 @ 3:59 pm

    Yay Happy New Year Jaden! Those are some great tips! And omg I had no idea a WWF cookbook existed. Freaking hilarious. :D

  43. wokandspoon — 1/3/08 @ 4:06 pm

    I’m drooling, I’m drooling! And not just for chocolate! More secrets, give me more secrets! ;-)

  44. Hillary — 1/3/08 @ 4:14 pm

    Jaden, I love the new design! And that dark chocolate toffee macadamia bark looks heavenly…care to share? :)

  45. brilynn — 1/3/08 @ 5:53 pm

    Ah Jaden, you make it all sound so easy! Not everyone has the writing skills, talent and character that you do, (although some certainly think they do). I look forward to hearing the rest of your tips though, I swear cold weather fogs my brain, my blogging had been sporadic at best lately, I need a jumpstart.

  46. Marissa — 1/3/08 @ 6:19 pm

    Ok Dahling…I take the challenge! I shall twist Paula’s recipe a bit….just have to think on it…I am also going to try my hand at Mochi this weekend.

    Now, If I could just get my camera to take some good photos!! argh!

  47. FlaNBoyant — 1/3/08 @ 8:35 pm

    I love the pic as much as the actual recipe. I saw Emeril do his version during the Holiday features on FN and it was tongue licking good. Thanks for sharing! happy ’08.

  48. Canary — 1/4/08 @ 1:02 am

    LOvely fOOd bLoG!!! glad I dropped by.. :)
    Happy new year to you too… :)

  49. woah jaden, i posted a recipe for spiced candied pistachios that sound similar to the brittle recipe except mine didnt turn into brittle but onece. Check it out on my site.

  50. Waiting with bated breath……………….

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