toasted coconut, almond, + millet bark.

toasted coconut, almond + millet bark.

I’ve been meaning to tell you about this bark. It’s terrible, when I hold out on you, particularly when it’s something this easy and this good. Did I mention that, as far as chocolate bark goes, it’s pretty good for you? There’s that too, so you can feel good about making this repeatedly for yourself and others. If you give this as a gift (which you should) and the receiver throws their hands up in protest, mumbling something about holiday calories and winter weight gain, be sure to tell them not to worry, because this is arguably the healthiest chocolate thing they’ll eat this season. Except if they eat Willow’s chocolate avocado mousse, but someday, those avocados? They’ll be gone. And you don’t want to be left with nothing.

toasted coconut, almond + millet bark.

I call it “toasted bark” for short, mainly due to two of the main ingredients – coconut chips and slivered almonds – being oven-toasted ahead of time. It’s got a specific cosy warmth to it that you don’t find in most bark, like a big fisherman’s knit sweater. It’s packed with flavor, yet deceptively thin: since half the ingredients are inside the chocolate and you spread it thin, you get full-on chocolate richness without gobs of chocolate making you ill. Plus, I’ve added my new favorite baking ingredient; millet.

Ever hear of millet? It looks a lot like couscous, and has a similar nutty flavor. It’s tiny, perfectly round, and crunchy. You prepare it much like you would quinoa, and it’s delicious that way – so many things you can do with it cooked, and we’ll get into that in future posts – but it’s pretty delightful raw. You can throw it in baked goods like muffins to give them a little crunch. Seriously! Faygie made fig + millet muffins on her blog, Life Tastes Good, the other day, and I made them within 24 hours of her posting them. We’ve been going back and forth comparing notes on that Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook we both have been cooking out of, and I fell in love with these muffins instantly.

I've been meaning to tell you about this bark. It's terrible, when I hold out on you, particularly when it's something this easy and this good. Did I mention that, as far as chocolate bark goes, it's pretty good for you? There's that too, so you can feel good about making this repeatedly for yourself and others. If you give this as a gift (which you should) and the receiver throws their hands up in protest, mumbling something about holiday calories and winter weight gain, be sure to tell them not to worry, because this is arguably the healthiest chocolate thing they'll eat this season.  I call it "toasted bark" for short, mainly due to two of the main ingredients - coconut chips and slivered almonds - being oven-toasted ahead of time. It's got a specific cosy warmth to it that you don't find in most bark, like a big fisherman's knit sweater. It's packed with flavor, yet deceptively thin: since half the ingredients are inside the chocolate and you spread it thin, you get full-on chocolate richness without gobs of chocolate making you ill. Plus, I've added my new favorite baking ingredient; millet.  Ever hear of millet? It looks a lot like couscous, and has a similar nutty flavor. It's tiny, perfectly round, and crunchy. You prepare it much like you would quinoa, and it's delicious that way - so many things you can do with it cooked, and we'll get into that in future posts - but it's pretty delightful raw. You can throw it in baked goods like muffins to give them a little crunch. Seriously! Faygie made fig + millet muffins on her blog, Life Tastes Good, the other day, and I made them within 24 hours of her posting them. We've been going back and forth comparing notes on that Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook we both have been cooking out of, and I fell in love with these muffins instantly.  Millet is pretty special in terms of crunch; if you're scared, they have an incredibly subtle flavor when raw, and up against hearty toasted coconut, almonds, and dark chocolate? Non-existant. Millet isn't here for flavor, it's here for crunch, and it adds a special crackle to the finished product, like little hippie nonpareils. Am i thinking of using them on frosting? I am SO thinking of doing that, yes.   Meanwhile, I leave you with this bark. Elizabeth over at Eating Local in the Lou gets full credit for reminding me to tell you about this: she made delightful coconut muffins over on her blog the other day, and was raving about Trader Joe's roasted coconut chips. The ones i get are raw coconut chips, because I'm, you guessed it, a control freak who likes to control the toast. You should be able to find them at your local market (especially if they have an organic or bulk/specialty foods section), and Whole Foods carries them. These aren't to be subbed out for sweetened shredded coconut, by the way: that's a whole different thing, and although it's great for in some things, it's not going to be as good as the coconut chips are in this. Seek out the chips, please.  Inspired by a recipe from that same Gwyneth Paltrow book, although mine is different enough that I think "inspired" is the best word here.   Toasted Coconut, Almond + Millet Bark.

Millet is pretty special in terms of crunch; if you’re scared, they have an incredibly subtle flavor when raw, and up against hearty toasted coconut, almonds, and dark chocolate? Non-existent. Millet isn’t here for flavor, it’s here for crunch, and it adds a special crackle to the finished product, like little hippie nonpareils. Am I thinking of using them on frosting? I am so thinking of doing that, yes.

Meanwhile, I leave you with this bark. Elizabeth over at Eating Local in the Lou gets full credit for reminding me to tell you about this: she made delightful coconut muffins over on her blog the other day, and was raving about Trader Joe’s roasted coconut chips. The ones I get are raw coconut chips, because I’m, you guessed it, a control freak who likes to control the toast. You should be able to find them at your local market (especially if they have an organic or bulk/specialty foods section), and Whole Foods carries them. These aren’t to be subbed out for sweetened shredded coconut, by the way: that’s a whole different thing, and although it’s great for in some things, it’s not going to be as good as the coconut chips are in this. Seek out the chips, please.

Inspired by a recipe from It’s All Good: Delicious Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen, the very same cookbook as Faygie’s Fig + Millet Muffins, although my bark is different enough that I think “inspired” is the best word here.

Toasted Coconut, Almond + Millet Bark

  • 2/3 cup coconut chips (I like Melissa’s brand)
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 4 ounces 60% dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces 70% dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon raw millet, divided

You can make this using the chocolate levels you prefer: I’ve customized it to be a nice, strong dark chocolate combo without it being too bitter. If you like it a bit meaner, use all 70% chocolate. Like it more like a chocolate chip? Use all 60% or just go with a semisweet. Whatever you use, try to use a good-quality one; I like Ghirardelli, and it’s what I used here.

This recipe is easily doubled, tripled, or whatever if you really want to go for it. It’s why I make bark as a christmas gift every year: it’s super easy and you can make as much at a time as you have sheet pans for. 

Toast all the things:

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper.

Spread the coconut chips out in a single layer on one of the sheet pans, and spread the almonds out on another. When the oven is ready, place the coconut and the almonds inside and bake until toasted. The coconut chips will take about 5 minutes (they’re done when they take on a golden peach color), and the almonds will take closer to 8-10 minutes (they will be a light golden color). Check them closely the entire time, and stir as needed. Set both aside to cool.

Melt all the chocolate:

In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of just simmering water, melt the two chocolates together, stirring occasionally until smooth. Ready another half sheet pan by lining it with parchment, or do what I do and reuse one of the parchment sheets from either the almonds or the coconut.

Add 1/3 cup toasted coconut chips, 1/4 cup almonds, and 1/4 cup millet to the chocolate, stirring until everything is coated by the melted chocolate. Pour the mixture in the middle of the sheet pan, spreading outward until it’s around the size of a quarter sheet pan (10 x 13 inches) or thereabouts. Be sure to spread it as evenly as possible, keeping everything evenly distributed throughout.

Sprinkle the top evenly with the remaining almonds and coconut, then top the whole thing off with the remaining 1 tablespoon of millet. Place in the freezer for at least 20-30 minutes to harden. If your freezer is a skinny one, the refrigerator will work also; just make sure it stays in the fridge for at least an hour or two to get nice and solid. When it’s ready, take it out and break it apart into pieces.

You can store this, tightly covered, in either the refrigerator or freezer for a week.

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34 Comments on "toasted coconut, almond, + millet bark."

  1. Deb says:

    Wow, never had thought of pairing millet with chocolate! But then I recently tried a Theo dark chocolate candy bar with bread crumbs for crunch and it was fantastic. A lovely recipe to quell our inner chocolate demons and still indulge with a healthy treat!

    • shannon says:

      dark chocolate and bread crumbs: interesting! I would love to try that. When i was at the food conference back in early August, they had lovely swag bags, and in that swag bag was a Bissingers (local chocolate place) dark chocolate bar with quinoa in it; now that i think about it, that may have gotten the wheels turning a bit, because it was delicious. I’m still leery of adding quinoa (i suppose i’m not sure if it was raw or toasted, but i want to do some research). but it was so satisfying and not terrible for you, either. who knew grains and chocolate made such nice friends. :)

  2. the bark!!! i have the millet sitting in my pantry right now. i was going to make the muffins today but… something happened and i ended up making something apple-y instead.

    those TJ’s coconut chips? flippin DELICIOUSSSS

    i’ve been wondering what millet actually tasted like, and i’m totally giving this stuff out for christmas.

    • shannon says:

      I knew you had millet, because we’ve been talking about the fig muffins. thank GOODNESS it took me so long to tell you what kind of figs i used! :) now you still have millet to use for the bark.

      I’ve added the TJ’s chips to my list of TJ’s items; the list is giant. I need to go, but by now it’s all stuff i would scarf, so i need spread it out a bit.

  3. All right. Millet is a new one for me but I am older than Gwyneth. And silly me, but I thought millet was bird seed. In any case, I do love fisherman’s knit sweaters, so I may have to add this to my repertoire of bark because I too, make bark at the holidays. Only mine is mocha and macadamia. But those both begin with m and so does millet. May have to try adding that to this year’s batch!

    • shannon says:

      Abbe, millet is a new one for me too! I’ve seen it, in our organic section at the store, but never used it until very recently. I’ll admit, although i love the organic section, it does get a little…what’s the word…over the top for me in terms of what i would eat b/c it’s great for me and what i would not eat at all because sorry, cardboard. I didn’t know where millet fell in all that, but now i do, and it’s on the good side. :)
      Mocha and macadamia…all of you are making me so hungry talking about bark! It would make a nice addition to any bark, in my opinion. a nice addition for sure to bark you love the flavor of, but want to add a bit more crunch to.

  4. You mean to tell me that I’ve been passing up bark every holiday for fear that my hips would no longer fit in my skinny jeans, and that I’ve been doing it for no good reason. I could be munching on bark all year long without guilt. Well, now I know better. I will be hoarding bark like a fiend. This recipe looks delicious. I really love all the toasty crunch going on.

  5. Ashley says:

    Here it’s many of my favorite things – coconut chips, almonds, dark chocolate, you and whole grains! I’ve had millet before (check out Heidi Swanson’s millet cornbread muffins, slathered with butter or jam. nom!), but never in a sweet application. I’m excited to try!!! And I can’t wait to hear more about millet! Woot!

    • shannon says:

      i’m totally looking up those cornbread millet muffins: crunch in cornbread would be phenomenal, and i’m always in love with cornbread, no matter what the season. Millet rocks, as far as i’m concerned. just an interesting thing to play with, and you know how i like to mess with things. :)

  6. My brother would call this Bird Seed Bark. Like gorgeous, grainy bread, which he calls Bird Seed Bread. So, I’m totally gunna make some, sit on my deck, and eat it IN FRONT of the birds. Take that, nature!

  7. Every year I am going to make chocolate bark for Christmas gifts, and every year I don’t. This is the year! Coconut is not my thing, but I have family members who love it. They will be getting some of this bark! I’m finally going to make some cherry almond bark, and maybe a take on a Toblerone bark. I need to start thinking and planning for Christmas. It is the bark year!

    • shannon says:

      Sarah, psst, c’mere: bark is the EASIEST thing ever to make for gifts, girl. you have to try it this year! No oven, just some melty chocolate and a spatula (and a place in your fridge or freezer). cherry almond bark sounds delicious: i did a bark with dried cherries in it and they work so nicely with chocolate, i think. and Toblerone!? maybe we should do a cookie/gift exchange this holiday…;)

  8. I haven’t done anything with millet in ages, and never in a sweet. This looks so interesting! Really creative – thanks.

    • shannon says:

      thanks you, John! I was a little apprehensive about adding the millet: i had made it without several times, and just thought it needed an extra something, but you never know how much is too much when you add something like this, or how it will play. I was thrilled; fun ingredient, right? makes me want to mess with it more in the future.

  9. Monica says:

    I’m all for crunch so if millet will do that, bring it on! I started making toffee two Christmases ago. I need some bark in my life and as far as I’m concerned, this one is plenty good for you!

  10. Tammy says:

    I made this yesterday, and it’s deee-lish! And I loved your statement about millet being hippie nonpareils – that is exactly what they are. They are really just crunch in this. I can’t wait to make this again, and I can’t wait to see your savory applications for millet!

    • shannon says:

      that’s so great to hear, Tammy! I’m happy you like it; i still have some in the freezer that I can’t seem to keep myself away from. :) I’m looking forward to playing around with millet too; i’ve seen it so many times, but just recently have gotten to really “know” it, and i love it.

  11. jacquie says:

    I never would of thought of using millet this way – I have to try it. How do coconut chips compare with coconut flakes? could I substitute the later or do I have to purchase the chips? thanks.

    • shannon says:

      Hi Jacquie! The millet is really fun in here: so fun, in fact, that i’m thinking of extending millet into other things for crunch. It just works so well for adding a little bit of that to normal things; I’d love to hear what you think of it!

      coconut chips are larger (think pencil shavings?) in size and are not sweetened in the way that coconut flakes are. They tend to toast more evenly, since there’s no sugar running around to skew things – they turn a nice even golden without much effort versus the constant babysitting of sweetened flakes. Although in a pinch, you could sub the coconut flakes, i can tell you i’ve made it both ways and much prefer the chips in flavor, texture, and ease of use. And they’re way prettier than the flaked variety. They’re pretty easy to find, at least in my experience: i’ve seen them at multiple types of stores in the produce section, they aren’t terribly expensive, and they keep well. If you make them with sweetened coconut, watch your toasting time, and flip often, same temp as listed chips. You may want to take them out when they’re light peach in color, because the sweetened coconut is smaller and gets more brittle in the oven than the chips tend to do.

  12. Oh my, I’m very late to comment on this….finally having a chance to do blog-catchup. I’ve been dying to use millet in something. I think I have some in my pantry that I tried cooking once but I can’t remember. I love all the crunch going on here though. Yummy!!

  13. Peggy says:

    You had me at ‘toasted coconut’. This looks delicious!

  14. This looks amazing and reminds me of the quinoa chocolate bar from Bissinger’s that we got at Food Media Forum. Quinoa bark? I think that might be a staple from now on!

    • shannon says:

      yes! in fact, somewhere in these comments i mentioned that i began thinking about millet in the bark because of that particular swag bag item: it was SO good! i haven’t had a chance to try quinoa in chocolate yet on my own, but i loved the crunch of that bar; probably my favorite thing in the bag.

  15. Emma says:

    I once found a pile of millet on the train tracks after watching a baseball game. And then I ate some.

    Haven’t had any since, but this would be the way to do it.

  16. Wendy says:

    Millet is many things. It is bird seed( a favorite with ground feeding birds and sparrows). It is crunchy. It is round and tiny and adorable like sprinkles. And now it is an essential ingredient in dark chocolate bark where it becomes crunchy, adorable, people seed. This bark looks simultaneously healthy and decadent. It may have to go in this quarter’s final exams care package. :) Honestly, Shannon, you are so good at taking weird ingredients and using them to make irresistible food-stuffs!

    • shannon says:

      I’m going to be SO excited if this bark was included in a final exams care package! it’s healthy and also a treat, which is perfect for stressful situations. :)
      i think the Feast assignments for weird ingredients ARE rubbing off on my real-life cooking, for sure. and that’s a total win/win for me, because i get to teach people about weird ingredients and expand my own cooking, which is wonderful.

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