Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gifted and Thrifted. Chocolate Bark Recipe.

For the past few years I have been making chocolate bark for our friends and for Brian's co-workers and I thought it might be nice to share it with all of you as well. This is not the traditional chocolate peppermint bark you so often see this time of year. This one is healthy-- fruit and nuts make it that way and dark chocolate is good for you! So you can go ahead and eat to your heart's desire-- because, ya' know, it's healthy! This is a really fun and easy way to make the same thing each year but make it differently-- keep everyone on their toes and wondering what will come next year!

This year I made the following combos
-- Dark chocolate bark with dried apples and cinnamon almonds
-- Milk chocolate bark with orange cranberries and almonds
-- Dark chocolate bark with raisins, peanuts and pretzels
All are delish-- I can't pick a favorite!

I start the process with a trip to Trader Joe's which has everything you will need. If you don't have a Trader Joe's close by-- not to worry-- you can find everything you need at any grocery store although I am not sure about dried apples or cinnamon coated almonds-- you may need to go to a specialty store for those. If you can't find cinnamon sugar coated almonds, honey roasted peanuts also work very well.

I buy one pound bars of both milk and dark chocolate, you could also use chocolate chips-- but buy good quality as you bark is only going to be as good as the ingredients you put in it! For the barks above I bought 2 pounds of chocolate for each variety.

The first thing you will need to do is line baking sheets with parchment paper. This makes clean up a breeze as well as allowing for a non-stick surface for the chocolate. You will need to melt the chocolate in a double boiler (some people do it in the microwave also, but I always seem to over cook it in the microwave and it ends up lumpy-- no one likes lumpy, grainy bark! If you don't know how to set up a double boiler, this video can help you. It's easy peasy!

Step 1. Melt the chocolate one pound at a time over a double boiler.
Step 2. When it is nice and smoothly melted pour it onto your baking sheet.
Smooth it with a rubber spatula. I fill the surface of the baking sheet to within about a half inch of the sides of the pan. A note** you do not want the water or condensation from the bottom the pan that your chocolate is in to drip onto your parchment covered baking sheet so make sure you wipe all of that off before you pour the chocolate onto the baking sheet. I do this by making a fluffy pile of dish towels next to the stove, I simply pull the pan from over the hot water and set it onto the fluffy pile of towels for a few seconds, make sure all the condensation is gone and then pour the chocolate out.
Step 3. Add all of the "fillings."
Make sure you add lots of fillings-- you will break the bark up into pieces and you want a little bit of everything in each bite. Also, once you have added all your fillings, use the underneath of a ...omg--do you ever have a brain blank-- I'm having one right now!! What is the thing called you use to flip pancakes?? Yeah, one of those-- use the underneath of that to gently tap all of the fillings down so they go all the way through the chocolate. I then fancy it up a bit by drizzling a different kind of melted chocolate over the top.
Step 4. Add fancy drizzle.
If the bark was made using dark chocolate, I melt a little milk chocolate and then use a fork to drizzle it over the bark. Drizzle it by simply scooping it up on a fork and then quickly drizzle it in a side to side motion (almost like you are trying to shake it off the fork) You need to do this while the dark chocolate is still melty or the drizzle topper will just break off once you are breaking up all the bark.
Step 5. Refrigerate. Until the bark is solid.
Step 6. Break it into pieces.
Step 7. Package and gift!

Last year I used those boxes that look like Chinese take out containers which was very cute this year i went a different route-- There is so much vintage silver and cut glass at our local flea markets for literally a song that I decided to use that instead. Use all different shapes and sizes. I found some small glass cups as well as small footed silver-plated bowls and some oval fancy cut glass dishes. I cut squares of parchment and gold tissue for the bottom of the silver cup, piled up the bark and then put the whole thing into a cellophane bag and tied the top with a ribbon.

Here are some notes about each variety I made--
Dark chocolate bark with dried apple and cinnamon almonds.
The dried apples were slices so I chopped them into smaller pieces. I used cinnamon sugar coated almonds found at Trader Joe's, you could also use honey roasted almonds or peanuts from your local grocery store.
Milk Chocolate with orange cranberries and almonds--
I used orange infused cranberries which can be found at almost every grocery store.
Cute, custom, handmade and upcycled!! A perfect holiday gift just for you!


1 comment:

sweeter than cupcakes said...

I love your flea market packaging idea. I've often seen glass bowls like those on the $1 table, so you make a great gift for less $$. Thanks for passing on the idea.