If you're looking for a quick, customizable, but festive holiday treat, chocolate bark is a perfect choice. Just start with your favorite kind of chocolate, melt it, and then top with your choice of crunchy and chewy toppings. Voila! A lovely addition to your goodie tray.
[caption id="attachment_3266" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="White chocolate topped with chopped pistachios and chopped dried cherries."][/caption]
(from Food Network Magazine, December 2010)
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1 lb chocolate--bittersweet, semisweet, white, half bittersweet and half white for swirled bark
1/2 c. chopped crunchy toppings--nuts of any kind, peppermint candies, toff, nut brittle, toasted coconut, peanut butter chips, banana chips
1/2 c. chopped chewy toppings--dried fruits of any kind, mini marshmallows, candied orange peel, crystallized ginger
spices (opt.)--red pepper flakes, flaky sea salt, crushed cardamom seeds, toasted fennel seed, crushed pink peppercorns
Line a baking sheet with foil, shiny-side up; smooth out any creases.
Make sure all tools and utensils are dry. Chop chocolate into 1/2-inch pieces with a large knife. Place all but 1 cup of the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. (For swirled bark, put all but 1/2 cup of each chocolate in 2 separate bowls.) Microwave 30 seconds, then stir with a rubber spatula. Continue microwaving and stirring at 30-second intervals until melted, 3 to 5 minutes total. (For swirled bark, microwave each chocolate separately at 15-second intervals.)
Immediately add the reserved chopped chocolate to the bowl; stir vigorously until melted and shiny. Don't worry if there are a few small unmelted pieces.
Pour the chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet; use the rubber spatula to spread it into a 10 to 12 -inch circle, about 1/4 inch think. (For swirled bark, pour the 2 chocolates side by side on the baking sheet; use the spatula to swirl them together.)
Press your crunchy and chewy toppings into the chocolate, arranging them so each bite has a mix of flavors and textures. Sprinkle with spices, if using. Let the bark harden completely at room temperature, about 1 hour. (If the room is warm, you may need to freeze the bark for a few minutes.) Break into pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks.
[caption id="attachment_3267" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Bittersweet chocolate topped with toasted coconut, slivered almonds and mini marshmallows."][/caption]