One of those edible gifts on my baking list is usually chocolate bark. It's incredibly easy to put together and makes a great host gift or party treat bag. All you do is melt chocolate, add your desired flavours or topping, and you have a tasty holiday treat in less than 10 minutes. You can also play around with flavour combinations and add different dried fruits and nuts, as well as extracts.
The first two types of bark were adapted from The Happy Baker cookbook. This is one of my go-to dessert cookbooks and has all kinds of easy and delicious recipes, as well as funny dating anecdotes from the author.
Candy Cake Bark (from the Happy Baker cookbook)1 1/2 cups melting chocolate or 1 300 g bar of 50-70 per cent chocolate
1 tsp peppermint extract
12 candy canes (can be mini or regular sized, about 20 mini)
1/3 cup white chocolate
1 tsp canola oil
Directions:Place the candy canes in a ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin or baking hammer. This is a great way to release that pre-holiday stress.
Melt the milk chocolate over low heat. Melting chocolate can be tricky, but I try and remove it from the heat just before it's all completely melted. Also, I try to keep it at a really low heat (like 2 or 3 on the stovetop) and constantly stir it as it melts. It's up to you which kind of chocolate to use. I like the chocolate wafers rather than chips for melting.
Stir in half of the crushed candy canes and peppermint extract. Spread the chocolate onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with the remaining candy canes.
Melt the white chocolate and add the oil. Drizzle the white chocolate over the bark. Set in the freezer for about 20 minutes then break into pieces.
White Chocolate and Cranberry Bark (from the Happy Baker cookbook)1 1/4 cups white chocolate
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds (or shelled pistachios)
Directions:Melt chocolate over low heat. White chocolate is a little more finicky than milk chocolate, so stir often and make sure it doesn't harden.
Remove from heat and stir in the cranberries and almonds. Spread over a lined cookie sheet and let set in the freezer.
Chocolate almond Bark (my own recipe)1 1/2 cups chocolate
1/2 cup whole almonds (you can chop them or leave them whole)
1 tsp almond extract
Directions:Melt chocolate then remove from heat and stir in almond extract and almonds. Spread onto a cookie sheet and let set in the freezer.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to making different types of bark. The Happy Baker also recommends a dried blueberry and hazelnut combination, which sounds amazing. Bulk and baking stores also carry chocolate wafers in many different colours and flavours. Just resist the urge to open the freezer every five minutes to break off a piece of bark for yourself (never done that...)