chocolate barkHave you ever made chocolate bark? Biting into a piece of chocolate bark with so many different flavors and textures is incredibly satisfying. The chocolate melts on your tongue while almonds and pumpkin seeds provide crunch, and dried cranberries add chewiness. This dark chocolate bark is vegan (dairy-free, egg-free), grain-free (gluten-free), soy-free, and refined sugar-free.

Along with natural peanut butter, dark chocolate is one of the things I crave frequently. This chocolate bark is irresistible! It tastes good. It smells good. And it feels good when it melts on the tongue. According to science, letting chocolate dissolve slowly in your mouth produces significant increases in brain activity and heart rate, similar to a passionate kiss, but the effects of chocolate last four times longer! No wonder it’s so darn hard to stop eating chocolate. But I digress.

If you’re not familiar with chocolate bark, it’s essentially a thin layer of chocolate filled with mix-ins like nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or pretzels broken into pieces. Almond bark and hazelnut bark are probably the most popular chocolate barks, but you can mix many different ingredients into the chocolate. What’s more important than the mix-ins is the chocolate. Read on.

dark chocolate bark

Tips for Making Chocolate Bark

Ingredients

The best chocolate bark requires only a handful of ingredients:

  • Chocolate: whenever I make chocolate bark, I use homemade dark chocolate made from cacao powder, cacao butter, and powdered coconut sugar. If you’d like to go that route, excellent! If not, you can use store-bought chocolate. Here are three factors to consider when buying chocolate:
    • Quality: there are two types of chocolate – real chocolate and compound chocolate. Where real chocolate is made up of cacao butter, compound chocolate is made of oil (usually coconut, cottonseed, palm, or soybean). The oil in compound chocolate can either replace the cacao butter entirely or partially. Real chocolate may contain some vegetable oil, but not more than 5%. I highly recommend using real chocolate over compound chocolate. Real chocolate is far superior – it looks shiny on the surface, has a luxuriously smooth, melt-in-your-mouth texture, produces an audible snap when broken, and holds its shape at room temperature. However, unlike compound chocolate, real chocolate needs to be tempered, which is an extra step that can feel tedious. So, if you’d like to make chocolate bark without tempering the chocolate, compound chocolate, also known as confectionary coating, is the way to go.
    • Form: chocolate comes in various shapes. Blocks, bars, discs/wafers, callets, and fèves are great for making chocolate bark. Avoid chocolate chips because they contain stabilizers to help them retain shape and not melt even at high temperatures.
    • Type: the three most common types of chocolate are dark, milk, and white. This recipe is for dark chocolate bark, but you can use any chocolate you like. You can even use two different types of chocolate to create beautiful swirls in the chocolate bark.
  • Mix-ins: nuts and seeds give the chocolate a wonderful, crunchy texture. Dried fruit and flaked coconut provide chewiness. Sea salt and spices add another layer of flavor. Use whatever you like or have on hand.

ingredients for chocolate bark

How to Make Chocolate Bark

Making chocolate bark is a breeze. Tempering chocolate is not.

I won’t be discussing tempering chocolate because I’ve written a guide on this topic. But in a nutshell, you cannot simply melt real chocolate and let it set. If you do, the chocolate will have a dull, streaky appearance, chalky, sometimes even grainy mouthfeel, and won’t harden at room temperature. The reason? Cacao butter.

Cacao butter contains crystals that stabilize at specific temperatures. When you temper chocolate, you must first heat it to a temperature where all the crystals (type I – type VI) break apart. Then, cool the chocolate to increase the amount of the right (type V) crystals. And finally, gently reheat the chocolate to get the crystals to form the correct crystal structure. Tempering chocolate doesn’t have to be hard, but it can take a bit of practice. 

Here’s the thing, though – chocolate bars in the store are already tempered. So, as long as the crystals inside the cacao butter remain intact (aka the chocolate stays in temper), there is no need to temper the chocolate again. Here’s how to make tempered chocolate bark without actually tempering the chocolate:

  1. Chop the chocolate. Using a sharp knife, finely chop the chocolate. 
  2. Gradually melt two-thirds of the chocolate. Add the chocolate to a stainless steel bowl and heat it gradually, stirring occasionally, until it’s about two-thirds melted. You can use a double boiler or a microwave to melt the chocolate. 
  3. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the chocolate from the heat and stir until it is completely melted and the temperature on a thermometer registers 89.6°F/32°C (for dark chocolate), 86°F/30°C (for milk chocolate), 84.2°F/29°C (for white chocolate). If the chocolate exceeds those temperatures, it will have to be tempered. If the chocolate has not melted completely and is still too cool, set it over the saucepan/put it in the microwave for a few more seconds. 
  4. Add the mix-ins. Stir the almonds, pumpkin seeds, and cranberries, making sure all the mix-ins are coated in chocolate. Pour the chocolate onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and spread it into an even layer. The thickness will depend on the mix-ins you use. For example, pumpkin seeds and cherries may be close to ¼-inch thick chocolate bark, while almonds and dried cherries will produce about ½-inch thick chocolate bark.
  5. Chill. Transfer the chocolate to the refrigerator to harden, for about 10 minutes. Once set, break the chocolate into desired pieces.

melted dark chocolate

melted dark chocolate with nuts

how to make chocolate bark

How to Store Chocolate Bark

  • Storing at room temperature: transfer the chocolate bark to an airtight container and store it in a cool, ideally between 65-70°F/18.3-21.1°C, dry, dark place away from direct sunlight, moisture, and strong scents.
  • Refrigerating: chocolate can get too warm at temperatures above 75°F/23.9°C. If your house is warmer than 75°F/23.9°C, store the chocolate in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Allow chilled chocolate to come to room temperature without opening the airtight container so that any condensation forms on the outside of the container and not on the chocolate. Always bring cold chocolate to room temperature before eating; cold chocolate doesn’t melt or disperse flavor as nicely.

dark chocolate bark

More Chocolate Recipes

  • Dark chocolate: have you ever wondered how to make chocolate at home? Raw (= from unroasted cacao beans), tempered (= shiny, smooth, with a snap when you bite into it), dark (75%) chocolate entirely from scratch. If you’d like to make your own dark chocolate, try this 3-ingredient recipe.
  • Almond butter cups: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are so popular. However, whenever I tasted one, I thought, “The chocolate could be darker, and the peanut butter could be creamier.” So, here’s a healthy(-ish) twist on everyone’s favorite Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup – almond butter cups with dark chocolate and creamy almond butter filling.

If you try any of these recipes, please leave a comment and rate the recipe below. It always means a lot when you do.

chocolate bark
5 from 7 votes

Dark Chocolate Bark

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chill time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 20 pieces
Have you ever made chocolate bark? Biting into a piece of chocolate bark with so many different flavors and textures is incredibly satisfying. The chocolate melts on your tongue while almonds and pumpkin seeds provide crunch, and dried cranberries add chewiness.

Ingredients
 

  • 4 cups (680 g) dark chocolate, , chopped
  • 1 cup (145 g) almonds
  • 1/2 cup (64.5 g) pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup (65 g) cranberries

Instructions
 

  • Gradually melt two-thirds of the chocolate (using a double boiler). Add the chocolate to a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan with a few inches of water. The bowl should create a seal with the bottom saucepan to trap the steam produced by the hot water. Make sure not to get any water into the chocolate since it will cause the chocolate to seize up! Also, the bottom of the bowl shouldn't be touching the water - this would cause the chocolate to get too hot. Bring the water to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Once the water is hot, turn the heat to the lowest setting. Slowly melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, until it's about two-thirds melted. Then, remove the chocolate from the heat.
  • Gradually melt two-thirds of the chocolate (using a microwave). Add the chocolate to a stainless steel bowl and microwave for 20 seconds on high, then stir. Microwave for 20 seconds on high once again, then stir. Microwave for 15 seconds on high, then stir. As the chocolate begins to melt, microwave at 10-15 second increments at half power until the chocolate is about two-thirds melted.
  • Stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the chocolate from the heat and stir until it is completely melted and the temperature on the thermometer registers 89.6°F/32°C (for dark chocolate), 86°F/30°C (for milk chocolate), 84.2°F/29°C (for white chocolate). If the chocolate exceeds those temperatures, it will have to be tempered. If the chocolate has not melted completely and is still too cool, set it over the saucepan/put it in the microwave for a few more seconds. 
  • Add the mix-ins. Stir the almonds, pumpkin seeds, and cranberries into the melted chocolate, making sure all the mix-ins are entirely covered in chocolate. Pour the chocolate onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and spread it into an even layer.
  • Chill. Transfer the chocolate to the refrigerator to harden, for about 10 minutes. Once set, break the chocolate into desired pieces.
  • Store. Leftover chocolate keeps well in an airtight container in a cool, ideally between 65-70°F/18.3-21.1°C, dry, dark place away from direct sunlight, moisture, and strong scents. If your house is warmer than 75°F/23.9°C, store the chocolate in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Allow chilled chocolate to come to room temperature without opening the airtight container so that any condensation forms on the outside of the container and not on the chocolate. Always bring cold chocolate to room temperature before eating; cold chocolate doesn't melt or disperse flavor as nicely.

Notes

*Nutrition information is approximate and may contain errors. Please feel free to make your own calculations.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 20, Calories: 235kcal, Carbohydrates: 16g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 17g, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 7g
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keywords: chocolate bark, chocolate bark recipe, dark chocolate bark