Imagine a typical consumer tasting [fill in the blank].
S/he turns the package over, and reads the list of ingredients.
“Hey, I can do that!”
Who among us hasn’t been through this experience? You taste something really good. You look for the list of ingredients. You decide to skip the middle man, and make it yourself.
Some food challenges are more involved than others. The list of ingredients for a wonderfully crusty loaf of bread, packed with flavor and character (is that a hint of sourdough?), might very well be “unbleached flour, water, salt, yeast.”
No. What you do with those four ingredients can range from Poilâne, to pretty awful.
On the other hand, sometimes your clone is easy as pie. A piece of cake.
Or like taking candy from a baby. (Though truthfully, I’ve never understood that simile. Why is it easy to take candy from a baby? You’d think any self-respecting infant foodie would hang onto that Milky Way or Baby Ruth for dear life!)
We recently discovered a new type of chocolate bark here at King Arthur Flour. Offered by a very familiar retailer (whose identity will remain a mystery here), it’s incredibly addictive.
Only problem is, there are a LOT of people here at KA who crave this bark – and it comes in a relatively small bag. So, rather than buy bag after bag of this incredible confection, I decided –
“Hey, I can make that myself.”
“Dark chocolate with toffee, pretzels, [retailer name] cookies, peanuts, almonds, and a sprinkling of sea salt,” reads the bag label. Sounds pretty straightforward.
The first batch I made was pretty good; but not quite there.
“The chocolate isn’t quite right,” said one taste-tester.
“Needs more salt,” said another.
I agreed on both counts. The bittersweet chocolate I used on the first go-around was just too assertive; it overwhelmed the other elements.
So I turned to my favorite baking chocolate, Peter’s Burgundy Chunks. Midway between semisweet and bittersweet, the flavor of this chocolate covers the best of both worlds: assertive enough, yet tempered with sweetness.
And as for the salt – OK, let me use a heavier hand with the coarse sea salt sprinkled on top.
Let’s try this again.
Along with the Burgundy chunks and sea salt, I’ve gathered Oreos; small pretzel rings; chopped smoked almonds, and crunchy English toffee bits (think the middle of a Heath bar; you’ll find these in the baking aisle at your supermarket). Here are the amounts I came up with:
1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips/chunks or chopped semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup crunchy toffee bits
1/4 cup roasted or smoked almonds
4 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, broken into small chunks
2/3 cup salted pretzels, broken into pieces
What about the peanuts from the original? Well, I’m not a huge peanut fan, but you can certainly substitute peanuts for part of the almonds.
My first try, I simply melted the chocolate in the microwave, spread it on parchment, and pressed everything else on top.
FAIL. Too many ingredients for the surface area. As soon as I started to break the bark into pieces, half the stuff fell off.
Solution: stir half the chopped almonds and half the toffee bits into the melted chocolate.
From there, it’s a simple matter of layering everything on top.
Spread the chocolate (mixed with half the nuts/toffee) onto the parchment in the pan. Or into an 8″ round on parchment or waxed paper, if you’re not using a pan.
Top the chocolate with the remaining ingredients, pressing them down gently so they adhere. Sprinkle some large-flake sea salt on top, for added emphasis.
Let the candy rest for several hours, until it’s set. You can speed the process by refrigerating it, if desired.
[Fast forward to chocolate being set.]
Loosen the edges of the chocolate from the pan, and turn the round out of the pan.
Peel off the parchment…
…and turn the block of bark right-side up, to reveal it in its full glory.
Break the bark into chunks to serve.
Can you see the difference between the store-bought bark, and mine? Mine’s a bit chunkier, its elements more strikingly defined.
“Hey, I can make that myself.”
Hey, I DID make that myself!
And it was easy as… well, recheck the similes at the beginning of the post.
Looking for a reason to make this bark RIGHT NOW? Here are three:
•June is National Candy Month.
•“Christmas in July” is right around the corner.
•Making candy doesn’t require you to heat your oven.
And once you make this bark and see just how easy it is, you’ll be ready to try something else. Like Thousand Dollar Bars.
“Hey, I can make those myself!”
Please read, make, and review our recipe for Everything Chocolate Bark.
Print just the recipe.