desserts, snacks

winter bark.

This recipe made my holiday food gift-giving ten times easier last year. It was completely by accident; I went looking for a chocolate bark recipe to make simply because I wanted something different to add to the mix. I had just had a baby a few months prior, so I didn’t need anything that involved hand-wringing, forty-six different steps, or undivided attention. I needed one of those “I’m so lying to you right now” food gifts that look difficult but that I could do in my sleep. I may have actually been asleep most of last holiday season, I’m still not sure. 

Winter bark appeared like an angel from on high. It was chocolate. and more chocolate. and peanuts. AND EASY! I’m not even going to pretend like this involves skill. Just don’t burn the chocolate and you’re going to look like a Christmastime hero. I must have cranked out fifteen batches of this during last december (and, ahem, January because hey…new year’s day needed bark too) and, before I knew it, my gift-giving was complete.

This, and its companion piece (summer bark, slated for its blog appearance in june 2012) are two of most requested “can you please bring over/just wondering when you’re making that again” food items. People can’t get enough. I blame the cocktail peanuts…it’s that sweet/salty thing that gets them every time. and it looks soooooo ridiculously swirly and elegant people will think you painted the white chocolate in.

Incidentally, I think I saw a Martha recipe this year for something similar but that involved almonds instead of peanuts and also required some “faux bois/woodgrain texture mat” chocolate spread as thin as a butterfly wing. Come on now. Gorgeous, yes. But who has that kind of time? Or an extra woodgrain mat sitting around the house. I guess I wish i did. I also wish I had a staff of 4,000 and could decide to hold an eight-course Christmas dinner in one of my spare horse barns (somehow immaculately cleaned for the event) using a miles-long rustic table, my best china, and beautiful paper orbs of light floating above us as the fresh snow drifts down outside.

And yet, I don’t. So until I do, I guess no hand-painted, mat-textured candy.

If you feel like it, take a small amount of the white chocolate and, using a good food color paste (Wilton makes a nice one and you can find it at Michaels Craft Stores) dye it whatever color you wish, and drop it on after you drop on the white chocolate, pre-swirling. It makes a nice little color ribbon throughout.

To the friends and family reading the blog this year: it’s time for winter bark! Expect it to your houses shortly, because I can’t leave it sitting here.

Adapted (rather, just blatantly taken; what is there to change? ok, sometimes I add more peanuts) from Martha Stewart Living, December 2008 edition. Here it is on her website.

Winter Bark

  • 8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 7 ounces salted cocktail peanuts (1 1/2 cups)

Note: when I say “baking sheet,” I don’t mean a giant full sheet. I use a half-sheet, which makes for nice, sturdy bark that’s much easier to break/eat than it would be in a full sheet pan.

Place white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until chocolate melts. Remove from heat.

Melt bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Stir in peanuts. Spread on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, spreading peanuts in a single layer. Drop spoonfuls of white chocolate on top, and swirl chocolates with a skewer. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Break bark into large pieces.

Please remember to tightly cover your bark. Chocolate has a tendency to take on other flavors if it’s in the fridge for too long, and you don’t want to ruin perfection.

Bark will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks. Makes 1 1/4 pounds.

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  • Reply SeattleDee December 18, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    This looks SO over-the-top good, and ridiculously easy, that I’m making a giant batch today… instead of the fussy little rugelach I had planned. Yum!

  • Reply melissa December 21, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    this looks so good! it’s chilling in the fridge right now. can’t wait to eat it… i used 2 different kinds of dark chocolate and 2 kinds of white, hope it comes out okay.. thanks for the recipe!

    • Reply shannon December 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm

      melissa, me too! i’ve got a batch in the fridge to give as a gift tomorrow evening. let me know how yours comes out!

  • Reply melissa December 22, 2011 at 4:48 am

    update: it’s DELICIOUS. going to be making another batch to take to my mom’s on christmas eve. i think this will be a new tradition. thanks again!

  • Reply Maritsa December 23, 2011 at 3:44 am

    Wonderful idea. Thank you for sharing.

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