10 Types of Chocolate Bark: Homemade Gifts for Christmas
Copyright (c) 2011 Deluxe Sweets and Candy Gifts
Stuck on what gifts to give for the holidays? How about homemade edible gifts? If you are looking to perhaps save some money, but choose something worthwhile that is sure to be a hit then candy gifts are a great choice. Chocolate bark recipes are easy to make and even more fun to eat. Chocolate bark are broken pieces of chocolate usually mixed with other candies, nuts or other ingredients or flavors. You can package them in decorative gift boxes, cellophane bags or even a combination like cellophane bags inside colorful paper gift bags with Christmas tissue paper, the options are numerous. The options for the chocolate bark recipes themselves is even bigger.
There are three types of chocolate to choose from: dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate. And even within dark chocolate there are degrees of sweetness, the packaging will tell you the percentage of sweetness. Once you choose the type of chocolate you want you then you choose the other ingredient to mix in it could be anything from prezel pieces, toffee bits, peppermint bits, chocolate chips, raisins, nuts of all kinds, other dried fruits, hard shelled chocolate candies like M&Ms, so on and so on. And there’s more than just other ingredients. There’s a third element: candy flavorings. You could change the taste of the chocolate by adding a drop or two of oil-based candy flavorings like orange, cherry, strawberry and more. These can be found at your local baking supply store. I also recommend Michaels here in the US. A baking supply store will have more flavors, though and you could always search online.
Not sure which combinations that someone special would like? Then make a few different chocolate bark recipes and mix and match the gifts. Try three different dark chocolate barks like one piece of plain dark chocolate bark, almond dark chocolate bark and cranberry dark chocolate bark. Or perhaps one piece of each chocolate with the same second ingredient or one of each chocolate type with different ingredients in each. For even another idea try the same chocolate type but with three different candy flavorings.
Which chocolate brand works best and in which shape (chocolate chips, wafers, blocks)?
The quality of chocolate is very important. There are some chocolates made for dipping (coating chocolate), there are some made for baking (ex. brownies, mousses, pastries) and there’s other chocolate good for eating raw. The best tasting one is the latter which would contain sugar to provide a good flavor. This still throws dark chocolate into the mix which could be bittersweet or semisweet, it would depend on the ratio between chocolate liquor and sugar, the more sugar the sweeter. These chocolate will come in blocks or bars, but if all you have on hand are wafers or chips then they will work just fine. I still would prefer the blocks. As far as the brand for Wafers I would go with Wiltons or Merckens. These are two of the most popular brands on the market. You can buy these at a local baking supply store, Michaels and even Wal-Mart is now carrying Wiltons. For the blocks you could go with Hershey’s or Ghiradelli’s.
Ready for a recipe? Let’s try dark chocolate peanut bark. The crunch of the peanuts and snap of the crisped rice cereal add various textures to enjoy.
Dark Chocolate Peanut Bark
1 Bag of Dark Chocolate Coating Wafers (16 oz.)
1 1/4 Cups Peanut Butter
1 1/2 Cups Dry Roasted Peanuts
2 Cups Crisped Rice Cereal
2 Cups Mini Marshmallows
1. Prepare Baking Sheet: Line a 9 x 13 baking sheet with wax paper then spray with cooking oil. Wax paper should extend beyond the ends of the sheet.
2. Melt Chocolate: There are two basic ways you should melt chocolate either
a) with a double boiler- add a small amount of water to the bottom pot filling only a few centimeters up the side. Simmer on low heat until vapors rise from water. Place smaller pot on top and add chocolate. As chocolate softens stir. DO NOT OVERHEAT or chocolate will seize and burn. Once completely liquid remove from heat immediately, or
b) use microwave. In microwaveable medium bowl heat chocolate for 1 minute on 50% power. Stir. Chocolate will NOT be completely liquid yet. Continue process of melting on 50% power in 30-second intervals then stirring. Every microwave different. You must heat up slowly, that’s why you carefully heat on half power or you could burn the chocolate.
3. Add Other Ingredients: Stir in other ingredients one at a time to obtain a consistent blend in the following order peanut butter, peanuts, crisped rice cereal and marshmallows.
4. Pour into Baking Sheet: Pour mixture onto one end of the baking sheet then tilt it so the mixture flows down to the other end. Tilt sheet back and forth until chocolate mixture is even. Set aside and let chocolate set (cool). Once hardened drop sheet on top of counter to crack the chocolate.
5. Cut into Pieces (optional): If needed lift chocolate by ends of wax paper and place onto counter top. gently crack with butter knife. Should end up with many jagged-edged pieces of candy.
Now package them in one of the forementioned ways.
What combinations will you make? Here is a list of 10 to try. Or make up your own. Just substitute the chocolate and second ingredient with the ones from the recipe above. Enjoy!
1. Dark Chocolate Almond Bark
2. Dark Chocolate Dried Cranberries Bark
3. Milk Chocolate Peanuts Bark
4. Dark Chocolate Dried Cranberries Bark with Orange Flavoring
5. White Chocolate Peppermint Bark
6. White and Dark Chocolate Swirl Bark with Peppermint Bits (or pepperment flavoring instead of bits)
7. Caramel Covered, Milk Chocolate Pecan Bark
8. Milk Chocolate Bark with Chocolate Covered Soy Beans
9. Milk Chocolate Crisped Rice Cereal Bark
10. M&M Covered Milk Chocolate Bark