Snappy, treat-studded chocolate bark is a holiday treat that is always met with much enthusiasm. (Williams Sonoma is able to charge $42 for 454g of their peppermint iteration, making it more expensive than organic rib eye.) There is, however, no reason to spend a bunch on bark, as it can be made in your kitchen with very little effort.
The holidays give us carte blanche to consume both alcohol and sugar with reckless abandon - bonus points if you can streamline the process. Gelatinous shots may be the millennial-preferred vehicle for the two substances but, like Pete Shweddy before me, I prefer a festive ball.
First, you'll need some chocolate. I'm talking bars, people, not chips. Chocolate chips are designed to keep their shape when exposed to heat, which makes them hard to spread and pour even when melted, and we don't need that nonsense here. You can make bark with milk, dark or white chocolate, or you can layer them for a multi-taste sensation.
Once you have your chocolate collected, you will need to gather the rest of your equipment and supplies. You will need:
- At least 450g of chocolate if you're making a single-layered bark with one chocolate; 900g (450g of each flavour) if you're layering two different chocolates
- Bits and pieces, such as crushed peppermint, pretzels, dried cranberries, hard lolly bits, mini peanut butter cups, bacon bits, flaky salt and so on
- Flavourful extracts, such as peppermint, if you like
- A microwave-safe bowls or double boiler setup
- A baking sheet
- Baking paper or a silicone baking mat
- A silicone spatula
Now, before you unwrap a single piece of chocolate, make sure your equipment - especially the bowl you plan to melt the chocolate in - is completely dry. Water is the enemy here, and even a small amount can cause your confection to seize up.
Once you have verified everything is water-free, line a baking sheet with your favourite non-stick paper or silicone mat, chop your chocolate (starting with the darker chocolate if you're layering) and melt it in 30-second blasts in the microwave, stirring between each one, or in your double boiler. Once it's completely melted, add three to five drops of any extract you like, then pour it on the lined baking sheet and spread it out to make a 20x30cm rectangular mass.
If you're making a single-layered bark, go ahead and top it with your add-ons of choice, adding as much or as little as you like; it's really hard to overload bark. If you're making a double-layered bark, let the first layer set until it becomes opaque, but isn't completely hardened. Melt your next layer and repeat the above keeping in mind that chocolate with higher fat content (such as white) will melt and burn more quickly than dark chocolate. Pour your freshly-melted chocolate on top of your no-longer-so-melted chocolate, top with whatever bits and pieces you desire, and let it all set until it's completely hardened. Break into pieces, eat many of them yourself, and gift the rest in many festive looking baggies.