Dicembre Dolce: Italian(ish) Chocolate Bark

bark 4 OK, I know chocolate bark isn’t Italian. It was invented by Williams-Sonoma. Or maybe California as a way of marketing dried fruit.

Either way, chocolate + dried fruit = holiday heaven in my book. Add nuts and you really send me over the moon. So I made some bark. And since it is my mission in life to sprinkle a little bit of Italy into everything I do, I sprinkled some Italy into my bark, in the form of Bronte (Sicilian) pistachios and Trapani sea salt.

I had bought the pistachios ~ not only shelled, but also peeled ~ to make torrone. The purchase was a splurge, but if you have ever had to peel the papery skins off a small mountain of pistachios, or even just 10, you’ll know it’s worth it. Even so, time got away from me. Consequently, bark in place of torrone, which is much more finicky and laborious to make. Bark, on the other hand, is nothing more than melted chocolate, poured out and decked with pretty edible jewels. Once hardened, you simply break it into shards.

bark 2

There are many ways to “Italianize” your bark. You could add a splash of Punch Abruzzo or other Italian liqueur to the chocolate as it is melting. Or maybe a little espresso powder. You could scatter strips of candied orange peel on the poured out melted chocolate, along with some chopped dried figs and almonds.

I used bittersweet chocolate and decorated the bark with the pistachios and some chopped almonds, along with dried cranberries and chopped dried apricots. It wasn’t until later, when the bark had completely hardened, that I thought: Wait! Salt!

Inspiration had struck too late. Or had it?

Here’s what I did: I melted a chunk of milk chocolate, drizzled that on the bittersweet bark and sprinkled the flakes of Trapani sea salt on top. There you have it ~ Italian-style bark. It’s the perfect last-minute hostess gift or dessert for your holiday buffet table. Not to mention late-night snack to enjoy with your favorite Christmas movie.

* * * * * * * * * *

Incredibly, friends, we’ve come to the end of another year. I want to thank each and every one of you for visiting this blog, for reading the posts and chiming in with your thoughtful own comments, and for sharing your love of Italian food and cooking. I’m grateful for this wonderful community. Buon Natale e felice Anno Nuovo!

Makes about 1 1/2 pounds

Italian(ish) Chocolate Bark

Delicious, bittersweet chocolate bark gets an Italian makeover with Bronte pistachios and flaky sea salt from Trapani. Packaged in tins or in cellophane bags, this jeweled candy makes a wonderful holiday gift; feel free to make your own variations. The possibilities are pretty much endless.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I use those big bars of 72 percent from Trader Joe's)
  • Splash of Punch Abruzzo or other liqueur, such as Cognac or Grand Marnier (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (optional)

  • Topping suggestions (2 cups total):
  • Chopped dried apricots
  • Dried cranberries
  • Dried sultanas
  • Dried chopped figs
  • Strips of candied orange peel
  • Coarsely chopped lightly toasted skinned almonds
  • Peeled pistachios (I splurged on a jar of pistachios from Bronte, Sicily)
  • Toasted and skinned hazelnuts, halved
  • Lightly toasted walnut halves or pieces

  • 2 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Coarse or flaky sea salt (I used coarse salt from Trapani

Instructions

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate: Put the pieces in the top of a double boiler set over (but not touching) barely simmering water. Or put the pieces in a heat-proof bowl and set over (but not touching) a pan of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring gently, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. To melt in the microwave, put the pieces of chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and zap at 50 percent power in 30-second intervals until melted and smooth. Stir after each interval.

Pour the chocolate onto the parchment and use a silicon spatula to spread it to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Sprinkle the toppings over the chocolate. I used dried apricots, dried cranberries, sultanas, chopped almonds, and pistachios. Set the bark in a cool place to harden completely (I put mine in a safe spot in the garage). You can let it harden at room temperature but it will take a few hours.

When the bark is hard, melt the milk chocolate (see instructions above). Using a honey dripper, a fork or a spoon, drizzle the milk chocolate over the bark, Jackson Pollock-style. Sprinkle the sea salt on top. Return the bark to a cool spot and let harden completely. Use your hands or a knife to break the bark into bite-size pieces. Store it in a tin lined with waxed paper. Or pack it into cellophane bags and give it as gifts to your favorite people.

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28 Responses to Dicembre Dolce: Italian(ish) Chocolate Bark

  1. Rosa Jeanne Mayland December 22, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    Addictive!

    Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2015!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. Rita December 22, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    Thank you for the recipe! Could you please post your Torrone recipe also?
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    • Domenica Marchetti December 24, 2014 at 7:56 am #

      Hi Rita, thank you for reading. The torrone recipe is destined for a new book, so stay tuned! Cheers and have a wonderful holiday.

  3. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way December 22, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    I had thought to just do my biscotti every year but looking at you Italian{ish} bark I am definitely changing my mind to include it in my recipes next year. Thank you for the inspiration!! And perhaps we should come up with some easy way to get to the pistachios easily, you know what they say about the mother of invention. I’ll have to think on this — my papa was wonderful on coming up with gimmicks to make life easier. Wish he were still here. Buon Natale!

    • Domenica Marchetti December 24, 2014 at 7:58 am #

      Marisa, thank you for reading. And yes, I agree with you. Peeling pistachios is so tedious, much more so than peeling almonds. Reminds me of having to pick up tennis balls on a court. You would think that someone would have invented a better method by now, right? Cheers and Buon Natale!

  4. elisa December 22, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    Che bonta’!!!! ….what can I say…I will make the bark with hazelnuts….And a Happy New Year too Domenica!

    • Domenica Marchetti December 24, 2014 at 7:59 am #

      Elisa, yes! Hazelnuts will be so good on this bittersweet bark. Buon Natale e buon nano cara!

  5. Paula Francese December 22, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

    Well, here I thought I was all done with holiday goody making and you had to put this recipe on line!! This will get done before Christmas day. Merry Christmas, Paula

    • Domenica Marchetti December 24, 2014 at 8:00 am #

      The good thing about this one, Paula, is that it is SO easy. Merry Christmas to you and Peter, and all the best in the New Year. xo

  6. ciaochowlinda December 22, 2014 at 10:50 pm #

    Domenica – I adore your “mission” to “Italianize” your bark and everything else you cook. I’ve made similar bark in the past, but I love your additions and suggestions, especially the Punch Abruzzo. Where do you buy that Trapani salt?
    Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and all the very best in good health, happiness and exuberant book sales next year.

    • Domenica Marchetti December 24, 2014 at 8:01 am #

      Linda, you can get Trapani sea salt on the Gustiamo web site. I have also found it at various ITalian delis. Have a wonderful holiday, my friend. Looking forward to seeing you in the New Year. xo

  7. Karen December 23, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    I love your little bit of Italian in everything 😉 The bark looks jeweled, festive and beautiful, just perfect for the season. Buon Natale and all things sweet to you and your family.

    • Domenica Marchetti December 24, 2014 at 8:02 am #

      Thank you, Karen. I’m so enjoying your blog. The recipes and the photos are wonderful. Buon Natale e felice anno nuovo!

  8. Betty Ann Quirino December 23, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    This chocolate bark sounds so easy to do yet looks so decadent. I’m having a hard time looking away from the photos. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Happy Holidays to you and your family, Domenica!

  9. Deb|EastofEdenCooking December 23, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    My daughter makes peppermint bark with dark chocolate, and it is very good. (I suppose it is a WS copycat recipe.) We’ve never tried fruit and nuts but your scrumptious post has me rethinking all those cookie recipes we wanted to try. Chocolate bark with with a sprinkle of sea salt sounds so much better!

    • Domenica Marchetti December 24, 2014 at 8:03 am #

      Deb, I love peppermint bark. I am usually a cookie person, too, but this stuff is pretty darn good. Have a wonderful holiday. 🙂

  10. Chiara December 23, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

    un mix delizioso Domenica ! Auguro a te e alla tua famiglia un Felice Natale, un abbraccio !

    • Domenica Marchetti December 24, 2014 at 8:04 am #

      Grazie cara Chiara. Buon Natale e felice anno nuovo anche a te e alla tua famiglia. Abbracci!

  11. Marie December 23, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    After seeing your beautiful bark, then Stacey’s, I made some today. Thanks for the inspiration!
    A very Merry Christmas to you and your family Domenica!

    • Domenica Marchetti December 24, 2014 at 8:05 am #

      I saw your bark on IG Marie. Looks perfetto. I have saved a few of your cucidati and am bringing them up to NJ for my mamma. She will love them. Buon Natale cara!

  12. Adri Barr Crocetti December 25, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    Oh, but I bet you bark is terrific. It looks so tempting, and you are so right about the Bronte pistachios being a splurge. Yowzah, but they are dear indeed, however there is surely no better way to bring a bit of Italy to your confection.

    I have so enjoyed our long distance friendship, and I look forward to another food-filled year. Bart and I send our warmest wishes to you and yours for a Merry Christmas and a healthy, prosperous, and joy-filled 2015.

  13. Phyllis@Oracibo December 27, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    Domenica I think the bark looks and I’ll bet tasted (notice the past tense) fantastic…so beautiful to look at…I do not like milk chocolate….but when I had some that had salt on top…well that’s another matter altogether! So I think that bit at the end was inspired and added more to the “look! I’ll be making some of this really soon!

  14. Frank Fariello January 2, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    Happy New Year, Domenica! May 2015 be as amazing as this looks… 🙂

  15. Marilena Leavitt January 3, 2015 at 10:40 pm #

    Looks amazing – Happy New Year Domenica!
    Marilena

  16. lizzygoodthings January 9, 2015 at 10:34 am #

    This is exquisite Domenica… I love the extra drizzle of chocolate. I made mendiants over Christmas. Tell me, you don’t temper your chocolate for these?

    • Domenica Marchetti January 10, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

      Thank you, Lizzy, and good question. I probably should temper it, but I’m a little fearful (not to mention lazy) in the candy making department. Tempering would keep it from blooming, yes?

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