If you’re looking for a quick, customizable, but festive holiday treat, chocolate bark is a perfect choice. Just start with your favorite kind of chocolate, melt it, and then top with your choice of crunchy and chewy toppings. Voila! A lovely addition to your goodie tray.
(from Food Network Magazine, December 2010)
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1 lb chocolate–bittersweet, semisweet, white, half bittersweet and half white for swirled bark
1/2 c. chopped crunchy toppings–nuts of any kind, peppermint candies, toff, nut brittle, toasted coconut, peanut butter chips, banana chips
1/2 c. chopped chewy toppings–dried fruits of any kind, mini marshmallows, candied orange peel, crystallized ginger
spices (opt.)–red pepper flakes, flaky sea salt, crushed cardamom seeds, toasted fennel seed, crushed pink peppercorns
Line a baking sheet with foil, shiny-side up; smooth out any creases.
Make sure all tools and utensils are dry. Chop chocolate into 1/2-inch pieces with a large knife. Place all but 1 cup of the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. (For swirled bark, put all but 1/2 cup of each chocolate in 2 separate bowls.) Microwave 30 seconds, then stir with a rubber spatula. Continue microwaving and stirring at 30-second intervals until melted, 3 to 5 minutes total. (For swirled bark, microwave each chocolate separately at 15-second intervals.)
Immediately add the reserved chopped chocolate to the bowl; stir vigorously until melted and shiny. Don’t worry if there are a few small unmelted pieces.
Pour the chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet; use the rubber spatula to spread it into a 10 to 12 -inch circle, about 1/4 inch think. (For swirled bark, pour the 2 chocolates side by side on the baking sheet; use the spatula to swirl them together.)
Press your crunchy and chewy toppings into the chocolate, arranging them so each bite has a mix of flavors and textures. Sprinkle with spices, if using. Let the bark harden completely at room temperature, about 1 hour. (If the room is warm, you may need to freeze the bark for a few minutes.) Break into pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks.