ISSUE 50  |  Feeling Festivus

A Simple Edible Gift: Chocolate Bark 3 Ways

December 19, 2014 11:00 AM

BY Lindsey Love

I much prefer to make my friends and family edible gifts than to take a trip to a crowded store or mall. And I’ve never met a holiday gift recipient who doesn’t love chocolate bark.

Here are three variations on the recipe (including dark/white/milk chocolate, gluten-free, and vegan versions) to please everyone on your list. (Send these gifts long distances, or give them out as favors to tell people you’re thinking about them this holiday season.) 

And for packaging? I keep it simple with glassine bags or Ball jars, little bits of natural twine, and always small touches of nature, such as berries, seeded eucalyptus stems, or a sprig of rosemary or pine.   

Read on for ingredients and step-by-step instructions for making and festively wrapping the chocolate bark:

Photography by Lindsey Love for Gardenista. 

Above: Chocolate bark screams, “Happy holidays!”

Above: Try not to eat all the ingredients before you get started.

Dark Chocolate Bark with Cardamom, Toasted Nuts, and Satsuma Zest

Dark chocolate has a luscious, rich quality, so pairing it with aromatic cardamom, toasted nuts, and some zest is the perfect way to fancy it up.  Don’t have some of the toppings here?  Swap cardamom for cinnamon, toasted nuts for toasted coconut; or instead of zest, try using cacao nibs or flecks of large grain sea salt.  Options are limitless.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces dairy-free/vegan bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, etc.)
  • Zest from one large satsuma

In a heatproof bowl over simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring every so often.  After completely melted and smooth, stir in ground cardamom and remove from heat; set aside for a few minutes.  On a rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper, pour chocolate and use the back of a spatula to spread in an even layer, about 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch thick.  Sprinkle with chopped nuts, and evenly distribute the satsuma zest.  Transfer to refrigerator to solidify; at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight. Using a sharp knife, break up bark into various shaped pieces.  

Above: I love eating peppermint and chocolate together during the holiday season.  There’s something so festive and so right about the two flavors together. I also added a little white chocolate drizzle for extra appeal, but it’s totally optional.  

Peppermint Bark with White Chocolate Drizzle

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces milk chocolate, roughly chopped 
  • 1/4 cup crushed candy canes or peppermints
  • 2 ounces white chocolate

In a heatproof bowl over simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring every so often.  After completely melted, remove from heat and set aside for a few minutes.  On a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, pour chocolate and use the back of a spatula to spread in an even layer, about 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch thick.  Sprinkle with crushed candy canes and transfer to the refrigerator while you melt the white chocolate.  You know the deal; melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over simmering water until smooth and melted. Remove the bark from the refrigerator and drizzle white chocolate with a spatula. Return to the refrigerator to solidify for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.  Using a sharp knife, break up bark into various shaped pieces.

Above: While on most days I’m not a big fan of white chocolate, the combination of pomegranate seeds and pistachios here is one of my favorite and I find it actually makes the white chocolate taste even better.  Plus, I love the festive red, green, and white hues. Perfect for that white chocolate lover in your family.

Pomegranate and Pistachio White Chocolate Bark

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces white chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate, divided 
  • 1/3 cup chopped and toasted pistachios, divided

In a heatproof bowl over simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring every so often. After completely melted, remove from heat and stir in half the pomegranate seeds and half the pistachios; set aside for a few minutes.  On a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, pour chocolate and use the back of a spatula to spread in an even layer, about 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch thick.  Evenly distribute leftover pomegranate seeds and pistachios and transfer to refrigerator to solidify for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.  Using a sharp knife, break up bark into various shaped pieces.

For packaging:

Above: I like to include a sprig of berries or fresh leaves on the package.

Above: Because chocolate bark is usually jagged, irregularly shaped pieces, I think glassine bags (shown) or a small box work best for packaging. As for tying it all together, natural twine is my go-to; most times bright, colorful ribbon overshadows what’s inside. Don’t forget to add a personal note to the recipient.

Above: If you’re using the bags as a holiday party favor, write down the main ingredients noting if there was wheat, dairy, soy or nuts used. Be creative and have fun.

Materials:

  • Glassine bags (or small boxes)
  • Wax paper, for cushion 
  • Twine
  • Eucalyptus, olive greens, pine, holly, berries, etc.
  • Gift tags

Above: Ready to spread cheer.

For more last-minute gift ideas, see 3 Last-Minute DIY Holiday Gifts and Gift Guide: Best Books for Garden Lovers.