Posted by: Rachael | December 27, 2010

chocolate bark making

Oh. My. Gravy.

If you live in the Northeast, I need not explain. The blizzard of 2010 successfully dumped 12 inches of snow on the Capital Region last night. Normally, I would be ecstatic about the first major snowfall of the season coming so close to Christmas (I’m a sucker for a white Christmas). Today, however, I was slightly less thrilled as I stood, completely frozen at the bus stop in 30mph winds waiting for a bus that was 20 min late to take me into work. I’m just now starting to regain the feeling in my fingers and toes!

Ok, now that I’ve addressed this crazy weather situation, I’ll move on to the real purpose of this post: chocolate bark making! I mentioned before that chocolate bark is one of the best homemade Christmas gifts you can give – it’s delicious, takes all of two minutes to throw together, and is completely customizable to the recipient! In fact – these cute little bark bars would be great gifts for any holiday or celebration – birthdays, anniversaries, house warmings, etc. etc. The sky is the limit with these babies!

So, just how easy is it to make your own chocolate bark?? Let me tell you!

First, you start with a mini loaf pan. I like to use the 4.5in X 8.6in size because I think it’s closest to the typical gourmet chocolate bar you’d get at a store. I found this 8 pack of disposable pans at the Christmas tree shop for two dollars. Talk about a steal!

Next, select your chocolate of choice. The type and flavor is up to you, but I recommend getting something that’s pretty high quality – like Lindt or Green&Black, or any of the organic chocolate bars they sell at most groceries these days. Remember – you want this to taste good, and because it’s such an inexpensive gift on the whole, I’m more inclined to shell out up to $5 to ensure the base of my bark is delish!

Then, get your mixins together. Any combination of fruit, nuts, candy, snacks, or more chocolate that you want! Here’s where you can let your imagination run wild! I tend to make bars that have themes like Hawaiian or Peppermint Crunch [see below], but you could really put as much or as little of anything on these that strikes your fancy.

Ok, so now that you have your ingredients assembled – here’s what you do:

1)     Melt the chocolate – you can either do this in a double boiler or if you’re lazy like me, pour it into a microwave safe bowl and nuke it a couple of times. If you do use the microwave however, make sure you only heat it up for 15 seconds at a time, and stir well in between each time. You definitely don’t want an expensive bowl of burnt chocolate on your hands….it doesn’t benefit anybody.

If you like a thin bar, I recommend using one whole Lindt sized candy bar [3.5 ounces]. If you like a thicker bar, I would go for 1.5-2 bars. I actually think 1.5 is the perfect amount of chocolate to use for these.

2)     Once the chocolate is melted enough so that it’s runny and drips easily off of a spoon, pour it into the loaf pan and tip it around a bit until the chocolate forms an even layer at the bottom of the pan. Then, drop it a couple of times on the counter or table to gently release any air bubbles. This also helps ensure you have an even layer.

3)     Immediately after you pour in the melted chocolate, sprinkle on your mixins. There’s no science to this step – just grab a handful of something and toss it in. You don’t even need to press anything down – the toppings will simply adhere to the chocolate. It’s magical.

4)     Once you’ve finished adding your toppings, pop the whole pan into the freezer and wait for it to harden up. This actually doesn’t take too long, but I like to leave it in there for up to a day just to make sure it’s good and solid before I package it up!

5)     After the bar has hardened, just gently pop it from the pan (you should have NO problem getting it out – no need to line the pan with wax paper beforehand or anything of that nature) and wrap it up nice and tight in a piece of aluminum foil. If you prefer a more traditional bark where you break the chocolate into random pieces, by all means go ahead and do that. It will be a lot easier to do this if you’ve only used 1 melted bar as the base – obviously, the thicker the chocolate, the harder it is to break apart.

Now here’s where I like to get creative. I use photo splits (little double sided stickers for mounting photos – you can get them at just about any craft store) to attach colored cardstock decorated with the name and ingredients to the front of the foil.

Then I tie them up with ribbon or add a bow to complete the presentation…

And voila! Instant chocolate-y gifts! These are such a quick, unique way to show someone you’re thinking of them – I guarantee they will be a huge hit when you present them to your family and friends. I know my parents are still gushing over theirs.

While I think the best part of this process is coming up with your own unique topping and flavor combinations, here are a few of my favorites if you’re looking for inspiration:

  • Hawaiian: dark or milk chocolate base sprinkled with toasted macadamia nuts, toasted coconut, and dried tropical fruit like mangoes, pineapple and papaya

  • Figgy nut: Lindt dark chocolate with a touch of sea salt, raw cashews, dried figs

  • Peppermint crunch: Lindt Intense Mint chocolate + Lindt white chocolate bar. Melt separately and pour in to pan one after another. Swirl a knife through chocolate to create a marbled pattern. Top with crushed candy canes

  • Cake batter bar: Can’t take credit for this one, but I’m so glad Jessica dreamed this one up. I topped mine with red and green holiday sprinkles! It truly is as amazing as it sounds! Thanks for making my life complete Jess!

Those are just a few of the all time faves. If you are looking for more ideas, I know the December issue of Food Network magazine had a whole spread on making your own bark so I’m sure they have some other equally fabulous suggestions!

Happy melting and mixing!

P.S. This is a perfect inside activity to keep you occupied if you’re snowed in today! Just because you can’t go outside doesn’t mean your imagination can’t run wild! =)

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Responses

  1. Those bars look delicious! And so pretty too.

    I can’t imagine that much snow. I have never seen more than maybe 6 inches.

    • Thanks Tina! I know, the snow was crazy! It was up to my knees on Monday! Luckily it’s melting quick!


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