chocolate-barkYou’ve probably seen fancy chocolate bark in stores, but did you know how easy it is to make your own customized version? You can even make multi-flavor bark by sprinkling on strips of different toppings. You probably already have the ingredients for it on hand, too! Just mix and match these toppings to create your masterpiece.

Start with your favorite kind of chocolate bar. Any percentage bar will work, but for serious chocolate lovers, opt for chocolate that’s 75% or even 85% dark. Also keep in mind that no matter who the lucky recipient of your homemade gift will be, more chocolatey, less-sweet bars are better companions for your toppings since the chocolate itself won’t be so overridingly sweet.

Cover a baking sheet or large cutting board with parchment paper, making sure that the paper is laying flat. Have your chosen toppings nearby and ready for sprinkling.

Break your bar(s) into bite-sized pieces and place in a small pot over the lowest heat possible on your stove. Let the chocolate slowly melt, stirring occasionally to help the melting process along and to keep the chocolate from burning. (Note that electric stoves maintain a lower and more even heat level than gas stoves do; if you have a gas stove, you’ll have to keep a closer eye on the chocolate and stir it more often as it melts.) Remove the chocolate from the heat before it has completely melted and keep stirring to finish melting the last stubborn bump.

Pour your chocolate onto your parchment-covered surface and use a spatula to somewhat smooth it out. You can make the chocolate uniformly thick or leave it somewhat more jagged and “barky.” Sprinkle on your chosen toppings. All of the toppings listed below play nicely together, so go ahead and add a few from several categories. You can also do specific sectors of toppings and break them apart later to create several differently flavored barks.

Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Time this! Just 15 minutes will allow the chocolate to set, but it won’t cause it to bloom. Longer refrigeration can result in white spots appearing (that’s the “bloom”), which will make the chocolate look less appealing and taste rather chalky. If the chocolate still isn’t fully set, let it continue to cool and set at room temperature.

Once your chocolate bark has completely set, go ahead and break it into uneven pieces. You can package it in clear bags tied with ribbons to showcase its gorgeous toppings, or you can stash it in cookie tins for a surprise gift.

Fun Toppings

  • Savories: Cooked and crumbled bacon, coarse-grained sea salt
  • Seeds: Sesame seeds (toasted or raw), chia seeds, poppy seeds, pepitas, toasted sunflower seeds
  • Herbs: Lavender, basil, rosemary, lemon verbena
  • Teas: Black tea, chai tea, Earl Grey, matcha, green tea, white tea
  • Flowers: Dried rose petals, hibiscus, cornflowers, lavender buds, calendula flowers
  • Nuts: Chopped toasted almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, pine nuts, peanuts
  • Tropicals: Flaked toasted coconut, toasted cocoa nibs
  • Zests: Lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit
  • Sweets: Crystallized ginger, candied orange peel, chopped peppermint candy cane, dried fruits

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