Dark chocolate meets crunchy chocolate chip cookie crumbles meets WOW.
A holiday chocolate bark is becoming somewhat of a tradition around here. Well, if you don’t count the last two years which I embarrassingly skipped. Still, before that we had fruity chocolate bark, peanut butter cup chocolate bark, and mint chocolate swirl bark (and don’t make me choose a favorite because I refuse).
Chocolate bark makes a great handmade holiday gift, and, once you get the hang of tempering chocolate, is super easy to throw together. You could really top it with just about anything. Once your bark is set, break it up into bite-sized pieces, pack it into a cello gift bag and tie with a pretty ribbon and gift tag.
This bark was made for crunchy cookie lovers (you know who you are). If you prefer chewy cookies, use room temperature butter instead of melted butter (and cream with the sugar before adding the other ingredients). Identical proportions, vastly different results. The melted butter bakes into a crunchy cookie crumble, while the creamed butter version, with identical ingredients otherwise, stays softer and chewy after the same time in the oven. Go figure.
While I am a chewy cookie fan through and through, in this case I decided the crunchy kind was the winner. It’s the perfect textural complement to the snappy chocolate.
OR if you want to be really wild… don’t even bake the cookie crumble. It’s eggless afterall, so it’s perfectly safe to eat raw, and you’ll have yourself some wicked chocolate chip cookie dough bark. It’s not quite as portable as the baked version (you’ll want to keep it refrigerated), but how awesome does that sound?
I debated adding a swirl effect to this bark much like my other bark recipes, with milk chocolate providing a subtle contrast, but in the end, since I was focusing on getting my chocolate properly tempered, I decided that trying to bring two different kinds of chocolate to temper at the same time was pushing it.
I’m working on my chocolate tempering technique (I like to follow the process described here), and was pretty pleased with how this batch turned out. The hardest part for me is taking the time to do it right: you can’t stick your chocolate over high heat expect it to work, rather you have to take it slow and pay attention to the temperature as you go.
Previously I’ve faux-tempered chocolate by melted it super gently, so the temperature never exceeds the 90 degree mark. Technically doing this should preserve the original temper of the chocolate. You may find that method easier than David’s method described above, which melts the chocolate first then uses a piece of tempered seed chocolate to entice the rest of the chocolate to take on the proper crystalline structure.
However you do it, properly tempered chocolate bark is stable at room temperature; otherwise, just be sure it’s kept refrigerated and you’ll be totally fine.
Of course, if you really can’t fathom even attempting to temper chocolate, you can always substitute chocolate candy coating. I’ve always found chocolate candy coating to have an ‘off’ flavor, but they are getting better (the Ghiradelli variety is the best, I’ve found). The beauty of these products is they contain additives that allow the coating to melt and cool and retain its perfectly snappy structure, no tempering required.
- 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips, plus more for sprinkling
- 12 ounces good quality dark chocolate (60-70%), chopped (set aside a few larger chunks for tempering purposes)
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- In a the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk to combine flour, cornstarch, salt and brown sugar. Add melted butter and vanilla and mix on low speed until a crumbly dough is formed. Add mini chips and stir until evenly distributed. Dough will appear dry and crumbly, but should stick together when squeezed.
- Slightly knead dough to bring it together into some larger pieces, then crumble in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. You want your crumbles to be various sizes, from pea-sized to marble sized, but anything larger break up into smaller pieces. Bake for 15 minutes or until bottoms are lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
- Meanwhile, place most of your chopped chocolate (set aside a few large chunks for later use) in a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water (you can also use this handy chocolate melting pot to provide consistent low heat that won’t burn your chocoalte). Let it melt fully, stirring occasionally, letting the temperature reach 115-120 degrees F.
- Remove chocolate from heat, setting it on a kitchen towel to absorb the water and keep the bowl stable. Gently stir until chocolate has cooled to approximately 80 to 84 degrees F.
- Drop in a few large chunks of tempered chocolate (it shouldn’t show signs of bloom or streaks) into the chocolate, stirring gently but consistently. Return to double boiler (or the ‘warm’ setting if using the chocolate melting pot) until chocolate reaches 88 to 91 degrees F, no higher (if it does go higher you’ll need to start over). Remove any remaining chunks of solid chocolate. Your chocolate should now be tempered and ready to go. Note if you are using semi-sweet or milk chocolate, the temperature ranges will be slightly different.
- Pour tempered chocolate onto a parchment or silicone-mat-lined baking sheet, spreading into an even layer using an offset spatula. Working quickly as the chocolate will start to set, sprinkle with chocolate crumbles, extra mini chocolate chips and edible glitter as desired.
- Set pan in a cool place (a wine fridge works perfectly here) until completely set. If your chocolate is not tempered, refrigerate the bark for about 30 minutes until firm. Break or cut the bark into bite-sized pieces.
- Bark will keep for upwards of a week at room temperature (if chocolate has been properly tempered), otherwise keep it in in the refrigerator in an airtight container.