Chocolate Bark Two Ways: Popcorn, Pretzel and Peanut + Cranberry, Pepita and Almond / by Chelsea Zwieg

It's officially Christmas time! For me, Christmas time begins on November 1st. That's when I start listening to Christmas music, putting peppermint in things and planning what cookies I'm going to make. The problem is, those first 30 days, I feel like I have to keep my Christmas spirit on the down low because lo and behold, as soon as I mention Christmas music or presents or shopping some Scrooge has to pop up and berate me with some why-do-we-skip-Thanksgiving-Christmas-is-too-soon-is-nothing-sacred anti-holiday rant.  

Well Scrooges can now be silent, because December is upon us. And you know the best way to silence a Christmas hater? Give them some chocolate bark. It's hard to complain about the holidays when the holidays mean homemade candy in your hand. 

Chocolate bark is one of the best and easiest things to make around this time of year. You can add it to a cookie plate, set it out for guests to snack on at holiday parties or just have it on hand to wrap up when you need a little last minute gift. 

I've included two of my favorite flavor combinations. The first has popcorn, pretzels and honey roasted peanuts and it's the perfect balance of sweet, salty and crunchy. The second is cranberry, pepita and almond which is a little crunchy and a little chewy with bursts of tartness from the berries. I like to use a really good, dark chocolate in this one because there is less in it so the chocolate really shines through. 

But the best part about bark is, you can use whatever you have on hand. Any nuts, seeds, dried fruit, pretzels, cereal or crushed up candy will work. Some other great combinations are dried cherry + pistachio + coconut flakes, white chocolate + candy canes + oreos or cashew + caramel + sea salt. If it goes with chocolate it works. And really, what doesn't go with chocolate? 

Popcorn, Pretzel and Peanut Bark

| Ingredients

  • 16 oz dark chocolate ( you can use bars or chips. I used a mixture of both) 
  • 1 cup pretzels  
  • 1 1/2 cups popped popcorn (about 1 tbsp. kernels) 
  • 1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts 

| Instructions | 

  • Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Melt chocolate in microwave. Stir to make sure it completely melted. Pour out 1/2 cup into a small bowl and set aside. 
  • Stir pretzels and peanuts into chocolate. Pour mixture in the prepared pan, spreading chocolate into an even layer. Sprinkle popcorn over the top, pressing it down lightly into the chocolate. Drizzle the reserved 1/2 cup of chocolate over the top of the popcorn. Refrigerate until firm. 
  • Pull bark out of the pan by the overhang of parchment paper. Using a sharp knife cut bark into pieces, as small or large as you would like. Store in a sealed container at room temperature. 

 


Cranberry, Pepita and Almond Bark

| Ingredients| 

  • 16 oz dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 1/2 cup almonds

| Instructions | 

  • Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Melt chocolate in microwave. Stir to make sure it completely melted. 
  • Stir cranberries, pepitas and almonds into chocolate.  Pour mixture in the prepared pan, spreading chocolate into an even layer. Refrigerate until firm.
  • Pull bark out of the pan by the overhang of parchment paper. Using a sharp knife cut bark into pieces, as small or large as you would like. Store in a sealed container at room temperature.