So it seems this blog is quickly turning from produce-centric to choco-centric (though this new-found chocolate creation craze maaay have something to do with the company I’ve been keeping!). The transition seems only natural, what with the ground freezing and those hardworking Michigan farmers finally putting up their feet and calling it a year. The way I see it, ’tis the season for sweets. This chocolate bark is not difficult to make but puts on quite a show aesthetically (would the expression, “all bark, no bite” apply here? Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree.) In any case, bark my words, this treat is sure to make a hit this holiday.
As far as ingredients go, what you’ll need is a lot of chocolate and whatever kind of toppings your mind can imagine. I did three varieties of chocolate for this batch of bark: milk, dark, and white. A 20 oz Nestle bag of chips for each type of chocolate served my purposes well, but I’m sure chocolate in nearly any form would also work. For toppings I chose:
pretzel sticks, broken into pieces
Heath toffee bits
peppermints, chopped into chunks
toasted coconut flakes
toasted sliced almonds
I toasted the almonds and coconut a bit to bring out a little extra flavor. Simply spread the almonds and coconut in an even layer on a pan and place in a 350° oven for 10 minutes or so, checking and stirring often, until you see a little browning and your kitchen begins to smell like heaven.
Before proceeding, make sure you have a 9 x 13 cookie sheet is prepared. Line with parchment paper and set aside.
And now the chocolate madness begins. If you don’t have double broiler (the Fields home does not) you can easily rig one up using a couple strategically sized pots. Get an inch or two of water boiling in the bottom pot, then reduce to a simmer and pour the chocolate chips into the top pot.
Melting the chocolate should take only five or so minutes but make sure you are incredibly attentive! Stir constantly, making sure the chocolate does not burn. No breaks to sneak some toasted coconut, check your phone, or do a little dance. You must keep your eyes trained only on that chocolate.
Melt until silky smooth.
Pour carefully onto the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and spread flat with the back of your spoon or a spatula.
And now the real fun part: sprinkle toppings like a mad(wo)man. In retrospect, I wish I had patted the toppings a little deeper into the melted chocolate, so that when it hardened the pieces would be more firmly in place. So give that a try for me.
Each tray of chocolate should hang out in either the freezer for half an hour or in the refrigerator for an hour. Once the chocolate has hardened, remove from the pan, peel away from the paper, and break (with your hands) into artsy, modern art-esque shards. The less symmetrical, the better.
These make fairly fantastic Christmas gifts. Go wild with your toppings, too. Maybe some lemon zest? A sprinkling of gummy bears? Bacon (if you’re into that)? Let me know what you dream up!
And happy holidays to you and your loved ones!