In partnership with If You Care, we're highlighting recipes, tips, and videos that help take the pressure off this holiday season. Here, the sweet and simple formula behind one of our favorite holiday treats.
A few years ago, I decided to make nut brittle for holiday gifts. I planned to send a box each to relatives, friends, and co-workers, which is to say, dozens of boxes. One day, it was all fun and games, buying all the peanuts at the supermarket. The next, my forearms were burnt, my kitchen was covered in melted sugar, and I was only one batch in.
Lesson learned. Nut brittle may be wonderful, not to mention a holiday classic, but it’s painstaking to make in big batches. That’s why, this year, I’m doing things a little differently. I’m making something that’s just as festive, but a whole lot easier: chocolate bark.
No sugar-boiling, no candy thermometers, and next to no cleanup. If you’re thinking that chocolate bark is just a giant chocolate bar, well, you’re right, and you’re wrong. It is a giant chocolate bar. More than that, though, it’s a giant chocolate bar where you are in control.
Just follow this mini recipe:
Line 1 rimmed sheet pan (18 x 13 inches) with parchment paper.
Melt 1 1/2 pounds dark, milk, or white chocolate. (You can do this over a double boiler or in the microwave.)
Pour the melted chocolate onto the parchment-lined sheet pan and spread it out evenly.
Sprinkle about 2 cups toppings, plus a couple pinches of flaky salt.
Refrigerate or freeze until completely firm, then break into pieces.
What kind of toppings, though? I’m glad you asked. If I listed them all, we’d be here forever, so let’s cover the big categories:
If you’re an overachiever, you can stir some ground spices (like ginger or cayenne) into the melted chocolate; I also love citrus zest (grated or in strips) on top. Beyond that, there are no rules. If you make something you love, your loved ones will love it, too. That’s pretty cheesy, huh? But I believe it. Especially around the holidays.
For one gift box, I like to mix and match varieties—say, one white, one milk, and one dark chocolate. The good news: Making a lot of chocolate bark isn’t that hard. Actually, it’s pretty fun.
Here are some combinations I love:
White chocolate + candied ginger + pistachios + orange zest
What toppings would you add to chocolate bark? Tell us your dream combos below!
The sweetest gift is the one you make! In partnership with If You Care, makers of kitchen and household products with a low environmental impact, we're highlighting clever tips and low-lift yet delicious recipes to make your holiday season totally stress-free.
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.