How to Make Chocolate Bark
Chocolate bark is easy to make, customizable, and a beautiful homemade holiday gift! Use your favorite kind of chocolate and toppings for this festive treat.
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Technique Used: DIY Double Boiler
Homemade chocolate bark is a simple process to master. It involves melting chocolate and adding delicious toppings. It’s that simple! Some of my favorite chocolate bark toppings are salty chopped nuts, chewy dried fruit, and flaky sea salt. While this may not be a traditional item you’d find in a cookie tin, it adds a little something different to gift boxes.
Why Chocolate Bark is Easy and Quick to Make
- You only need 1 ingredient for the base of chocolate bark: chocolate!
- You likely already have chocolate bark toppings on hand! No extra trip to the store required.
- The whole process of making chocolate bark takes only 30 minutes, including chilling time.
How to Make Chocolate Bark
Making chocolate bark is simple: melt the chocolate, spread the chocolate, add toppings, and let the bark harden. That’s it! Chocolate bark is a delicious treat for snacking, perfect for gifting, and is a really fun (kid-friendly) activity to do around the holidays.
Customize the Flavor of your Chocolate Bark
The below chart includes some ideas for chocolate bark toppings. For chocolate bark success, I recommend using a mix of 2-4 sweet and salty toppings and up to 1 cup of toppings total, per batch of chocolate bark.
This is not a comprehensive list by any means, but I hope it provides some flavor ideas and inspires creativity! See the notes section in the recipe card for flavor combination ideas.
Step 1: Prepare the Toppings and Chocolate
Use a sharp knife to chop the chocolate into very fine, small pieces on a cutting board. Prepare the toppings by gathering, chopping, and/or roasting. I suggest chopping pieces like nuts and candies into smaller bite-sized pieces. To bring out even more of the nutty flavor, toast the nuts before adding to the chocolate. Dried fruits like cranberries and cherries are already small and chewy.
Step 2: Melt the Chocolate
Simmer a couple inches of water in a saucepan to create a DIY double boiler. Start off on medium heat but when it reaches a simmer, reduce to low. Top it with a metal bowl. The water in the pan should not be touching the bottom of the bowl. Double check this before adding your chocolate.
Add the chocolate to the metal bowl and stir occasionally while it melts. Watch the water and make sure it isn’t boiling too aggressively (pick up the bowl with an oven mitt and look underneath). If the water is boiling too rapidly, turn down the heat. Keep melting the chocolate until it’s about two-thirds of the way melted.
Remove the bowl from the saucepan and keep stirring until the chocolate is completely melted. If it doesn’t fully melt, return the bowl to the saucepan and heat while stirring for another minute or two. Repeat this step until it’s fully melted and reaches temperature.
Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in the microwave in small increments however, this method is risky. If the chocolate gets too hot, it will seize and not temper properly which results in a matte, chalky-looking surface on the chocolate.
Step 3: Spread the Chocolate and add Toppings
Pour the melted chocolate onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Use an offset spatula or the back of a large spoon to spread the chocolate until it’s ¼ inch thick. Don’t let the edges get too thin. While the chocolate is still warm, evenly sprinkle the prepared toppings all over the top.
Step 4: Harden the Chocolate
Move the sheet pan to the refrigerator and chill for about 10 minutes until it’s hardened all over. If you aren’t in a rush, you can leave it at room temperature (chocolate bark will take about 2-4 hours to harden at room temperature). After hardening, break the pieces of bark with your hands into smaller chunks. I like to use my hands in order to get organic-looking pieces, however, you can also use a kitchen knife though it still may not break apart evenly.
Tips for making the best chocolate bark
- Use high-quality chocolate: The star of the chocolate bark show is the chocolate. Milk chocolate and white chocolate make delicious bark, but to really elevate the flavor, use a darker chocolate like 60% cacao. It’s not overly sweet and it’s not too bitter which makes it the perfect canvas for toppings.
- Use a mix of sweet and salty toppings: Don’t cram too many sweets on the same slab of chocolate bark. Use at least one salty (like nuts or pretzels) and one sweet (like candies or fruits). When in doubt, sprinkle flaky sea salt over the top to balance it out.
- Don’t forget about color: When choosing your toppings, think about the color scheme and how they interact. For example, pistachios and cranberries add a beautiful pop of color onto dark chocolate.
- Do not get water in the chocolate: When melting the chocolate, be extra careful to not get any water into the chocolate bowl. Water will cause the chocolate to seize up. Although it’s technically possible to fix seized chocolate, it’s quite difficult to do and may not work.
Can fresh fruits be used in chocolate bark?
No! Fresh fruits give off moisture that will transfer onto the chocolate. When hardened chocolate gets wet, it will give off a chalky matte-white appearance.
Can I melt chocolate in the microwave?
I prefer to make this recipe by melting the chocolate in a double boiler. It’s easier to maintain a low, consistent temperature. Although melting chocolate in the microwave is an option, I find it prone to overheating. If the chocolate overheats it will seize up and you’ll most likely need to start over.
How to store CHOCOLATE BARK
Store chocolate bark in an airtight container (or treat bag tied off with a ribbon) at room temperature for up to 10 days.
Refrigerator: Chocolate bark can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Freezer: Chocolate bark can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months. Place a piece of parchment paper between each layer of chocolate bark.
- 1 pound (16 ounces) high quality chocolate (dark, milk, or white chocolate - I prefer dark chocolate 60% cacao)
- 1 cup total toppings (see the chart in the above post for ideas)
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a sharp knife and cutting board, chop the chocolate (1 pound/ 16 ounces) into small bits.
- Collect and prepare your toppings (1 cup total) by slicing fruits, toasting and chopping nuts, gathering candies, flaky salt, etc. All pieces should be bite-size.
- Simmer water in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Place a metal or glass bowl over the top of the saucepan. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. If it does, pour some of the water out. Alternatively, you can use a bain-marie.
- Place the chopped chocolate in the metal bowl and turn the heat to low. Stirring occasionally and gently with a rubber spatula, let the chocolate melt. Once the chocolate is about ⅔ of the way melted, remove the bowl from the saucepan.
- Stir the chocolate until it is completely melted. If it doesn't fully melt after stirring, return the bowl to the saucepan and heat while stirring for another minute or two. Repeat this step until it's fully melted and smooth.
- Pour the melted chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet and spread using a spatula. It should be about ¼ inch (0.6 cm) thick. It may not reach the edges of the baking pan.
- Sprinkle toppings evenly over the top.
- Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or leave at room temperature for at least 3 hours until hardened. It may take longer if your kitchen is warm.
- Use your hands to break apart the bark into single serving pieces.
- Christmas Peppermint Bark: Use dark chocolate as the base. Melt an additional ¼ pound (4 ounces) of white chocolate and drizzle it in a thin layer over the top of the melted dark chocolate. Leave as is or use a butter knife to swirl the colors together. Sprinkle crushed candy canes over the top of the melted chocolate.
- Dark Chocolate Bark with Pistachio & Cranberry: Use dark chocolate as the base. Sprinkle ½ cup roasted and chopped pistachios and ½ cup dried cranberries over the melted chocolate.
- Classic White Chocolate Bark: Use white chocolate as the base. Sprinkle ½ cup roasted and chopped almonds, ¼ cup chopped dried cherries, and ¼ cup chopped dried apricots over the melted chocolate.
- Sweet and Salty Chocolate Bark: Use dark or milk chocolate as the base. Sprinkle ¼ cup chopped pretzels, ¼ cup chopped or halved peanuts, ½ cup m&m candies, and flaky coarse salt over the top of the melted chocolate.