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The best chocolate bark

The best chocolate bark

Martha Collison's recipe will fulfil your sweet cravings during the holidays, and can be customised. Treating the chocolate with care is crucial to ensure a shiny snap and professional finish. These are Martha's three favourite flavours – one with red, green and white topping (pictured), one reminiscent of a campfire with a cinnamon crunch, and one sweet and salty.

5 out of 5 stars(1) Rate this recipe
Vegetarian
  • Makes1 large baking tray
  • CourseSnack
  • Prepare10 mins
  • Cook3 mins
  • Total time13 mins
  • PlusPreparation time 10 minutes + cooling

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Ingredients

For red, green & white bark

  • 2 x 180g bars 54% Belgian dark chocolate
  • 50g pistachio kernels, roughly chopped
  • 50g dried cranberries, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • ½ tsp sea salt flakes

For sweet & salty bark

  • 2 x 180g bars 54% Belgian dark chocolate
  • 25g ready salted crisps
  • ½ x 50g pack Cooks’ Ingredients Honeycomb Niblets
  • 30g unsalted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

For campfire bark

  • 2 x 180g bars 54% Belgian dark chocolate
  • 25g Nestlé Curiously Cinnamon, roughly chopped
  • 16g pack Cooks’ Ingredients Micro Marshmallows
  • 50g pecan nuts, ½ roughly chopped

Method

  1. Snap the chocolate into squares, then finely chop using a sharp knife. The pieces should be similar in size to aid the melting process. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

  2. Weigh ⅔ (240g) chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl. Set the microwave power to 50% or medium setting. Melt the chocolate for 2-2½ minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, or until almost completely melted. See tips, right, if you want to use a thermometer. Remove from the microwave and continue to stir until completely melted.

  3. Add the remaining 120g chocolate and stir for 5-7 minutes. This will cool the chocolate and help it remain ‘in temper’.

  4. Return to the microwave at the same power for 10 seconds, then stir again. All chocolate pieces should have melted. If not, return to the microwave for 5 seconds at a time until smooth.

  5. Add ½ your chosen toppings to the chocolate (but use all of the cereal or crisps, as these don’t hold up well sprinkled on the outside, and all the chopped pecans, if using), stir well, then tip onto the lined tray. Spread into a large rectangle, making sure the chocolate is an even thickness across the tray. You want it fairly thin for a satisfying snap. Work quickly before it sets. Sprinkle the top with the remaining toppings and leave to harden at room temperature.

  6. Using a sharp knife, cut the bark into long, triangular shards. Serve immediately, or package up in gift bags as an edible present.

Cook’s tip

Tempering chocolate

When you buy chocolate as a bar, it looks shiny and snaps cleanly because it has been tempered. When you melt chocolate, the crystal formation changes and if not controlled, will reharden in a random way, which is what creates a change in texture. Your chocolate may be soft, or form a white fat bloom on the top. This changes the way the chocolate tastes too, as the molecules don’t melt on your tongue in the same way. To temper chocolate, the key is not to overheat it at any point. Using the microwave on half power, gently coax ⅔ of the chocolate into melting, then add the remaining ⅓ to ‘seed’ it, which will cool the chocolate and encourage it to form small, stable crystals as you stir. It will cool quickly and have a beautiful sheen on top, and that all important snap. If you don’t have a microwave, use a bain marie, but it’s more difficult to keep the temperature low. I suggest using a thermometer to track the temperature – you’re looking for it to reach around 44ºC while melting (step 2) – then remove from the heat and add the remaining chocolate. Stir until the chocolate reaches 29ºC (step 3), then heat briefly until it gets to 32ºC (step 4) before using. Check for these temperatures when using the microwave to be spot-on.

Gently does it

Never overheat chocolate – a bar will melt in your pocket, so it never needs to be exposed to intense heat to melt. Keep everything gentle.

Keep the crunch

Fully coat any elements you want to stay crunchy, such as the crisps or cereal. If you leave them exposed they’re likely to turn soft or stale.

Go dark

Dark chocolate is the easiest to temper, so I use it for all my bark. The 54% cocoa dark chocolate used here has the ideal balance of flavour. Only opt for 70% cocoa if you are a real fan of bitterness.

Nutritional

Typical values per serving (without toppings, for 8) when made using specific products in recipe

Energy

1,009kJ/ 242kcals

Fat

15g

Saturated Fat

9.1g

Carbohydrates

21g

Sugars

19g

Fibre

4.5g

Protein

2.9g

Salt

0.1g

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Overall rating (5/5)

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