This easy sweet and salty milk chocolate bark is packed with caramel, peanuts and pretzels and tastes like the best candy bar ever! It's a perfect treat for holiday gifting and just keeping around the house for sweet snacking.
I hope all my friends in the U.S. had a magical Thanksgiving filled with friends, family and food!
I have nothing but love for Thanksgiving, but being in Canada, where we celebrate in October, I personally moved on to the next thing a long time ago. The next thing being Christmas, obviously. I mean, ahem, some of us have had Christmas trees up since early November . Not gonna call anyone out or anything, but you know who you are ;).
So probably my very favorite thing about Christmas is spending time in the kitchen making all kinds of Christmas treats for everyone I know. In addition to cookies, cakes, candies and all that, I always make at least one chocolate thing.
Working with chocolate is quick and fun, and you can get really creative! Last year, I made these dark chocolate truffles with caramel and fleur de sel, which are always a favorite. This year, I'll be making something a little simpler, but no less delicious: chocolate bark!
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This version is made with milk chocolate, and packed with caramel, peanuts and pretzels. I tend to use dark chocolate a lot more often than milk, but I was really going for a classic candy bar effect here. You can definitely use dark instead and it will be just as delicious.
Chocolate bark, if you've never made it, is probably one of the fastest and easiest treats in world. You melt some chocolate, pour it out and sprinkle it with whatever you fancy. Break it up into pieces and you're done.
In my case, because working with chocolate is kind of my thing (I buy it in 11 lb blocks if that gives you an idea!), I went ahead and tempered the chocolate. Tempering ensures that when the chocolate sets after you've melted it, it will be shiny and snappy with no streaks of cocoa butter.
Although I will say that when it comes to bark, I consider tempering an optional step because it's usually covered in so much stuff that you don't see much of the chocolate surface anyway. The vast majority of bark recipes I've seen don't mention tempering at all. It's really up to you, but in case you want to try it out, there are some pretty detailed instructions for the way I do it (the easiest way I know of!) in the above-mentioned dark chocolate truffle post.
My very favorite chocolate to work with, for value and quality, is Callebaut, but feel free to use any high quality chocolate you can find. Lindt or Ghirardelli are good choices you can find in most grocery stores.
Once you've melted and (optionally) tempered your chocolate, melt down some caramels and mix in a bit of cream to loosen it and make it drizze-able. Drizzle over the chocolate, working quickly as chocolate can set pretty fast!
Sprinkle with lots of peanuts and pretzels for some salty crunch.
Chill until firm and then freeze for a few minutes (this hardens the caramel, which makes it easier to break into pieces). Using a large kitchen knife, break the bark into uneven pieces.
Chocolate bark will keep in an airtight container for a couple of weeks at room temperature, or for a couple of months in the fridge.
Since it stays fresh for so long, it's perfect for make-ahead holiday gifts!
Sound good to you? If you make this sweet and salty chocolate bark, I would be thrilled if you would take a pic and tag me on Instagram @ourhappymess!
Or pin for later! ↓↓↓
Sweet and Salty Chocolate Bark
- In a double boiler over gently simmering water (or in the microwave in 15 second increments), slowly melt the chopped chocolate until a few unmelted lumps still remain, stirring constantly. Be careful not to get any water in the chocolate. Note: If you are tempering the chocolate, keep about a half cup of it aside to stir in at the end.
- Remove the bowl of chocolate from the double boiler and stir vigorously until all the chocolate is fully melted. If you are tempering, add in the reserved chocolate and stir continuously until it is fully melted and the chocolate is smooth. Keep stirring until cooled to just barely warm. The more the chocolate is agitated, the better it will set.
- Place a large sheet of wax or parchment paper onto a baking sheet. Pour the chocolate onto the paper, and using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread it out to about ¼ inch thick.
- Working fast because chocolate can set very quickly, gently heat the unwrapped caramels in a measuring cup or small bowl in the microwave, in 15 second increments. Add the heavy cream and stir until the caramel has a smooth and pourable consistency. Add a bit more cream if the caramel is still too thick for drizzling.
- Drizzle the caramel onto the chocolate for a marbled effect. Immediately sprinkle the pretzels and peanuts evenly onto the whole thing. Press down gently on the toppings so they adhere well to the chocolate.
- Transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator for about 15 minutes until the chocolate is set.
- Move to the freezer for an additional 15 minutes to harden the caramel. This will make it much easier to break into pieces.
- Remove from the freezer and, using a large kitchen knife, cut the bark into jagged, uneven pieces.