Are you looking for a healthy treat that’s a snap to make for the holidays? Chocolate bark is delicious and incredibly easy to make, easily adaptable and perfect for sweet gifting.
‘Tis the season where healthy eating routines and goals go off the rails, but you can rest easy with this kind of treat. After all, there are a host of medically proven ways in which good chocolate (dark chocolate, with a cocoa percentage of around seventy per cent or more) really is good for us.
The other great thing about a chocolate bark is that you don’t need a recipe. Use whatever kind of chocolate you have on hand, be it dark, milk, or white – it’s about getting creative and using your favourite flavours and textures. The only thing to remember is that roughly 600g of chocolate will cover a large baking sheet.
What goes on top
Nuts and seeds are great additions for added crunch. Almonds or pecans or pumpkin seeds are all delicious – but any nut will do, roughly chopped or sprinkled over whole. Walnuts are our favourite because in addition to being loaded with protein and fibre, they’re a great source of Alpha-linoleic acid – linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and heart attack.
Cayenne, and dark chocolate are best pals. Scatter over a pinch of cayenne for a warm kick. Cayenne also packs a healthy bite.
Dried fruits add texture and sweetness. Try sprinkling over raisins, cherries, chopped dates, figs or even dried goji berries. While not a fruit, candied ginger is a wonderful complement to the dark chocolate, and has some surprising good-for-you benefits. (It’s also great as a digestif – try ginger after indulging in too many holiday treats!)
The art of the bark
All you need is a double boiler, or a bain-marie – which is nothing more than a saucepan and a bowl, and a little bit of patience.
Place a heatproof bowl snugly over a saucepan with a little water in the bottom (but not enough so that it touches the bottom of the bowl). There should be no gaps between the bowl and the rim of the pan. Place on the stove, bring the water to a gentle simmer, then lower the heat and start breaking your chocolate into the bowl. Stir with a spoon or spatula until smooth and completely melted.
Start by lining a baking sheet or thin tray with greaseproof paper, parchment or silpat sheet. Pour the melted chocolate onto your lined tray and spread evenly using a spatula, as thin or thick as you prefer.
While the chocolate is still soft, add your toppings. Be sure to get really creative – you can add different toppings to different portions of your tray, which means when it’s broken up you’ll have a nice mix of pieces. We love a combination of candied ginger, chopped walnuts, coconut flakes and a pinch of cayenne (recipe below).
We also add a dollop of coconut oil to the melted chocolate and a dusting of coconut flakes. Coconut oil is high in natural saturated fats, which boosts healthy cholesterol; coconut flakes are a pretty and seasonal finishing touch – they look like snowflakes!
18 oz. dark chocolate chips or chunks
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup coconut flakes
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium sized saucepan, heat chocolate on low until melted. Stir often. Once melted, add coconut oil and cayenne and whisk until smooth.
Pour chocolate mixture into prepared pans, and sprinkle the ginger, walnuts and coconut flakes evenly on both prepared pans.
Once you’ve created your masterpiece, transfer to the fridge for a couple of hours to cool. When completely set, break up into rough shards.
Wrap in cellophane bags tied with ribbon and handwritten labels for perfect homemade gifts, or store in an airtight container for a quick sweet treat.