I could regale you with how many awkward attempts it took me to whip up a solid batch of velvety chocolate, but I won’t (it was three). But when it actually works out, bark screams quickie Christmas gift for the masses. It can be easily dressed up and packaged in fun tins or candy boxes and customized to your liking.
The trick is tempering your chocolate correctly, so while I do consider this as a quickie project, it doesn’t mean it can be prepared with haste. Using a microwave works for some, but a double boiler works just as well as long as you melt the chocolate slowly. The extra couple of minutes will be the difference between smooth and pourable or a chalky, nearly unsalvageable mess. Make sure your double boiler is completely dry as any hint of water can and will make your chocolate seize into a thick, clumpy paste and turn hard. If you’re considering adding flavoring or color to white chocolate, do yourself a favor and let it cool. Otherwise, you’ll end up with seized chocolate. Again.
And once that’s taken care of, you can customize the flavor combinations to the giftee’s preference: walnuts, peanuts, slivered pecans, more chocolate (who cares, it’s the holidays!), raisins, dates, crushed peppermint, crushed Oreos, etc.
For my variation, I chose dark chocolate morsels topped with sweet toffee and salty flat pretzels that add texture to the bark.
If making your own bark is still too much trouble, check out Ms. Chocolatier Saturdays at the Pearl Farmers Market (mschocolatier.com) for her seasonal holiday bark, or toffee bark via Choicolate (700 E Sonterra, Ste 210).
Dark Chocolate Bark with Pretzel and Toffee
16 ounces dark chocolate chips
3/4 cups broken pretzel pieces (I used flat pretzels)
1/2 cup Heath toffee pieces
Line a rimmed sheet pan (at least 9-by-13 inches) with parchment paper and set aside.
Place chocolate chips in a bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted. Be careful not to let any water come in contact with chocolate or it will seize. Stir in half the pretzel and toffee bits and pour chocolate mixture onto prepared sheet pan and smooth evenly with a silicone or offset spatula.
Sprinkle remaining pretzels and toffee on top and gently press with hands or clean spatula so they stick. Chill in refrigerator or freezer until firm (at least an hour) and break or cut into pieces. Store tightly sealed in refrigerator until ready to use. The chocolate usually keeps for about two weeks as long as it’s refrigerated.
Modified from CanadianFamily.com