Bark Chocolate is one of the easiest chocolate treat that you can make at home. It requires very few ingredients, no special kitchen tools and easy enough for anybody to make. You do not have to be a chocolatier to be able to make an impressive bark chocolate. This variation for instance, is so simple you only need 2 ingredients, but it is so flexible that you can add any toppings that you like without worrying that it will be messed-up. A quick and easy chocolate treat that is perfect for nibbling and snacking, and most of all for gift giving.
I first read about chocolate bark sometime last year during the holiday season. I was looking for holiday giveaway, aside from the usual cookies and bars desserts and then I saw this. Bark Chocolate is a sheet of melted and solidified chocolate that are topped with nuts, pieces of cookies, chocolates , peppermints or even dried fruits. They are very popular during the holiday season because they are nice giveaways or gifts. Chocolate Bark is very easy and fun to make. Just pick a combination of good quality chocolate as base, and pick whatever toppings you want. I decided to make a plain chocolate marble for this post. More than eating it on its own, I used this as toppings and for decorating my tarts and cakes, like a cake topper.
What is Tempering?
Tempering is the process of melting the chocolate and bringing it back to a lower temperature. Once a chocolate is heated above 94F a temperature needed to melt the chocolate, it looses its temper. Without tempering, the chocolate will end up having a grainy texture an dull surface because the chocolate can form unstable crystals.
Benefits of Tempering Chocolate
- It gives a nice sheen and glossy surface on the finish product
- It gives the chocolate a nice crisp snap when you break it
- It prevents dull foggy or gray streak surface
- It prevents grainy texture
What Kind of Chocolate is Best for Tempering?
A good quality chocolate that has about 60 -70% range. Instead of a chocolate labeled as bitter sweet or semi sweet, go for the chocolate labelled with percentages, you want something with higher cocoa butter content. If bittersweet or semi sweet are the only one available, go for bittersweet as it is likely to have less sugar then semi-sweet. The best type of chocolate is the one called “couverture” this is made specifically for melting and dipping, this type of chocolate have additional cocoa butter added which makes is easy to temper. They are quite expensive than other chocolate but they really produce a nice end product. What you need to avoid is the manufactured chocolate bars as they are already a finished product ready to be eaten.
How to Temper Chocolate with Thermometer
The simplest way to do it is to melt the chopped chocolate over a simmering water. Use a heat proof bowl and transfer the chopped chocolate. Then pour water into a pan and bring it to simmer, not boiling. Put the bowl with chopped chocolate on top make sure the bottom is not touching the water as the hear could scald the chocolate. Slowly stir until the chocolate is melted. If you want it be exact, use a candy thermometer, it should read 110 – 115F. Remove the melted chocolate and put the bowl on top of a towel. Let cool to about 95F – 100F, then add the remaining chocolate. This will bring down the temperature of the melted chocolate.
Although making bark chocolate is so easy, there are few helpful tips that will you achieve a nice looking bark chocolate. The one that is shinny and glossy, the one that has a nice ‘snap’, the one that is not grainy. Here are few tips to remember.
Tips in Making Bark Chocolate:
- Use Good Quality Chocolate: Since making bark chocolate does not require a lot of ingredients, make sure to use a good or the best quality of chocolate. When making bark chocolate, it is always worth spending more.
- No Water into the Chocolate: Make sure no water gets into the pan as it can cause grainy texture
- Spread thinly so that it is easy to break and eat, plus it will harden faster.
- Toppings: If you do not want the toppings for fall of the bark chocolate, add the toppings while chocolate is wet. This way it sticks to the chocolate.
- Be care free and scatter the toppings without care, the more unorganized it looks, the better looking it will be
- Storage: Store the chocolate in a cool place to harden – do NOT refrigerate. I made this mistake several times before which ended up me having a foggy wet chocolate bark because of the condensation
- Be Patient: Leave for at least 12 hours without touching it to avoid finger prints mark. I like to make my bark chocolate at night and leave it overnight on my counter top. This allow the chocolate to solidify naturally.
- Do NOT refrigerate – Once refrigerated and taken out from the refrigerator, condensation will occur. This is when you see water forming on top of the chocolate, when it evaporates dissolved sugar remains on the surface of the chocolate creating a residue known as sugar bloom. This is even more important if you are making a large batch for gift giving. If I am only making a small batch (like this one) for myself, I do not mind refrigerating as I often finish it in a a day or two
- 4 oz. good quality Semi-Sweet or Dark Chocolate
- 2 oz. good quality White Chocolate
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- Melt the semi-sweet/dark chocolate. Use a double boiler or microwave. If using the microwave, stop and stir the chocolate every 20 seconds to help avoid seizing. Pour onto prepared baking sheet and spread out into a large rectangle. Set aside and prepare the white chocolate.
- Melt the white chocolate with same process at step 1.
- Drizzle melted white chocolate on top of semi-sweet/dark chocolate. Use a toothpick or any object with pointed end and make a swirling movement to create swirl pattern.
- Decorate with candies and sprinkles.
- Allow the bark to set at room temperature in a cool, dry environment, this usually takes around 45 minutes. If needed, you can stick it in the refrigerator to help speed things up. Once hardened, break into pieces as large or as small as you want.
Keep in a cool place, away from sunlight or heat. If making a large batch for gift giving, it is not advisable to refrigerate the bark chocolate as condensation could happen (moist water on top of the chocolate) once taken out from the refrigerator.
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