Recipe and photo courtesy of Kyla Winchester.
Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, December is a busy time of year. There are parties to attend, relatives and friends to visit, gifts to buy, and food to make. Fortunately, homemade chocolate bark can help with several of these things, in a fairly low-stress and delicious way.
People appreciate homemade treats, and I like to make them. However, accommodating different dietary restrictions can make this more complicated, and, frankly, individually baking dozens of tiny complicated cookies is a skill I have yet to master.
Chocolate bark is, as treats go, easy to adapt to different diets, simple to make and goes over extremely well! If you are trying to reduce your waste this season, chocolate bark will help: it looks lovely in a label-free jam jar with a little note attached. In half an hour plus chilling time you can put the bark in a jar or box and have something lovely to bring to a potluck, share as a hostess gift, or offer in a gift exchange. It also looks fancy without being over-the-top in terms of indulgence.
Accordingly, here’s chocolate bark, with some variations to see you through this busy time of year.
Chocolate Bark, 3 Ways
This can be vegan if you use vegan chocolate (depending on the brand, chocolate chips can be vegan) and dairy-free margarine; and can be gluten-free depending on ingredients.
Depending on what you mix with the chocolate, here are 3 options:
- Peppermint Bark has crushed candy canes. Add a couple full-size canes to a sandwich bag, seal and wrap in a kitchen towel, and crush with a rolling pin.
- Holiday bark has dried cranberries and almonds.
- Coconutty bark has coconut and your favourite nuts.
However, this are just a starting point! Use your favourite flavours: cranberries would also go nicely with white chocolate and grated orange peel. Flavour extracts can boost the chocolate without requiring too much work. Some people like raisins with the nuts. Dried cherries or more exotic fruits, like mango and papaya, are lovely, too. Some people like a sprinkle of salt on top; I’m one of those people. Puffed rice and puffed quinoa make a wonderful addition to texture. Even crushed cookie bits! You could also go old-school Mexican-style and add chili flakes.
Yield: Makes 1 baking tray, which is suitable for one gift or as a treat for 4 to 6 people
Difficulty level: Easy
Time: 1 ½ hours including chilling time
1 ½ cups chocolate chips or coarsely chopped baking chocolate
Optional: 1 tablespoon coconut oil or margarine helps keep the chocolate shiny, preventing a cloudy appearance, without affecting the flavor.
½ cup of additions like crushed candy canes, mix of dried cranberries and sliced, slivered or coarsely chopped almonds, divided
Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. Melt chocolate in the double boiler or microwave. If microwaving, heat for 1 minute, stir, then heat for 30 seconds at a time, alternately mixing, until completely melted. In a double boiler, keep the heat low and stir. When chocolate is melted, add additions but reserve about a quarter. Stir to combine. Spread on a baking sheet until it’s more or less an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining additions on top.
Refrigerate until chocolate hardens, about an hour. Break apart and put in a covered container. If all the additions are dried food, the bark can be stored on the counter. Otherwise, if using fresh food, like orange peel, for example, store in the fridge.