Chocolate Barks

Chocolate Barks, http://variationsoncooking.com

I was going through some old holiday books when I came across this very simple recipe for bark, it’s all about the melting. In the past I would go through the multi ingredient steps to make the chocolate, then during the tempering the chocolate would seize and I vowed never to make bark again, then a year passes, I forget the hassle, the holidays arrive and I want to make gifts and I think, “Bark would make great gifts” and the cycle begins.

When it comes to chocolate I use Ghirardelli chocolate chips and if I cannot get them I use the Costco brand. Of course, I tend to use only the dark chocolate. But lately I have been layering the different chocolates and adding flavoring. The book says use big blocks of chocolate, then break, and chop, but the chips are much easy, just pour and melt. When using the dark chocolate chips, I do add two additional bars of 100% Cacao to make it ultra-rich, just hit the bars on the counter to break and add them to the chips.

So, the prep, everything needs to be a room temp. You will need 3 lbs. chocolate chips of choice, plus your choice of toppings.

Fill a medium sauce pan with a few inches of water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium/low, place a large metal bowl over water, to warm bowl. Once bowl is just about too hot to handle remove both from heat, keeping bowl on top of water. Add 3 lbs. of the chocolate of choice, stir until almost completely melted, remove bowl from sauce pan and continue to stir until smooth.

Divide chocolate between two parchment lined cookie sheets, spread to about 1/4 inch thick. Now add toppings.

I usually do an assortment of nuts, but season them first before adding to chocolate. I toss the nuts with salt and cinnamon, transfer to nuts to a mesh strainer to remove an access salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle nuts evenly over chocolate and press in. Now I would normally place the cookie sheet in the fridge BUT the book said NOT to do this since it cools the chocolate too quickly sometime causing it to “Ghost” and become too brittle and it changes the taste. It says to let the chocolate set and cool slowly for better taste, hardening and look. Once set, just lift parchment and break into pieces.

Below are some of the toppings I use when making my bark.

Spicy Popcorn and Peanuts

Ingredients

2 cups of freshly popped popcorn

1 cup of candied peanuts

salt

pepper

powdered garlic

Cayenne Pepper

Toss fresh, hot popcorn with seasoning, Cayenne and garlic, to taste, transfer to a mess strainer to remove access salt and spices.

Sprinkle popcorn and peanuts over chocolate, press into chocolate. Now I reserve a bit of the melted chocolate to drizzle over the popcorn and peanuts. Cool and break.

Fruit & Nuts

Ingredients

1 cup dried Blueberries, rough chopped

1 cup dried Raspberries, rough chopped

1 cup Pistachios, salted, chopped

I layer the chocolates here, I spread out a thin layer of dark chocolate on the cookie sheets, let it set. Then pour a white chocolate layer over the dark chocolate, sprinkle the fruits and nuts over, press in to chocolate. Let cool and break.

Peppermint

Ingredients

2 cups candy canes, smashed into chunks

1 cup mini dark chocolate chips

I make this the same time as the Fruit and nuts version above. Spread out a thin layer of dark chocolate, let set. Then spread a thin layer of white chocolate, sprinkle with candy cane pieces and chips. Then I drizzle with a bit of the dark chocolate, let cool and break.

Tropical

Ingredients

1 cup dried banana slices, chopped

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1 cup dried mango, chopped

1 cup toasted almond slivers

Sea Salt

Chili powder

Place all the above ingredients into a large bowl, sprinkle with some sea salt and a pinch of chili powder, toss to coat.

Sprinkle over chocolate, press into chocolate, let cool and break.

Rocky Road

Ingredients

1 cup mini marsh mellows

1 cup of walnuts, chopped

1 cup dried cherries, chopped

1 cup mini dark chocolate chips

1 cup corn flakes, smashed

Sea Salt

This is another layered chocolate, starting with the white chocolate spread out a 1/4-inch layer. Then sprinkle with all the ingredients above with the exception of the salt, press in and let set. Now spread a layer of dark chocolate over the top. It is going to be lumpy and may not be completely covered, but that is okay. Sprinkle with sea salt, let cool then break.

These are just a few of the barks I have made, but have fun and play with all types of ingredients — Enjoy