Even a healthy bite deserves a little boost. Dark Chocolate Espresso Bark blends 61% cacao with a touch of espresso and fruit and nuts for a sweet treat perfect for your next party or shared on Valentine’s Day. Part of a partnership with Nestlé.
A healthy dark chocolate Bark
The day dark chocolate was proclaimed “healthy” was the all the planets in the universe aligned for me. In addition to its amazing taste, dark chocolate is chock-full of little things called flavenols which have gotten a lot of positive press about their ability to help protect the heart. And dark chocolate has almost triple the amount of these bad boys than milk chocolate making it a flavenol powerhouse. Plus it goes better with coconut and peanut butter —enough said. What better way to get a big dose of this healthy sweet than a dark chocolate bark?
I’ll tell you. Adding espresso, hazelnuts, pistachios and dried cherries to it.
Coffee +Chocolate are smart
Did you know scientists have learned that a combo of coffee and chocolate (cacao) can make us smarter? Did you need another reason to make this bark?
And in case the espresso in the title turned you off, trust me—it’s subtle. There’s just enough there to bring out the flavor of the chocolate, which is something coffee does so well. The next time you make brownies, add a little bit (1 teaspoon) of espresso powder. Heaven.
Now I won’t stand in your way if you choose to add a bit more espresso (or none at all). When I actually tested the recipe originally, I added twice the amount. You totally can do it. Just be prepared for a much stronger coffee taste and aroma along with unequivocal rejection by the absolute coffee-haters. Maybe you’re one of them. It’s ok—we can still be friends.
Next-Level Chocolate Chips
The hero of this bark is the chocolate. I used Nestle’s Artisan Collection Extra Dark Chocolate Morsels (61% cacao). They’re larger than regular chocolate chips and the flavor is over the top! These morsels are made with single origin chocolate from Ghana and while they aren’t organic like these other ones from Nestle, they are UTZ certified. So you can feel good that they support sustainable cocoa farming. And the nutritional info is a little better than standard chocolate chips with 1g less sugar (8g vs. 9).
One easy Recipe
To make any kind of bark you need a few essentials:
- a double boiler (or microwave)
- a heatproof glass bowl
- rubber spatula
- sheet pan
- parchment or wax paper
- flat spatula
First, you’ll heat about 1 1/2-2″ of water to simmering in a saucepan (I used a 4 qt.). You’ll want to make sure that the glass bowl can sit into the pan just above the simmering water while resting on the sides of the saucepan.
Next, pour your chocolate chips into the bowl. Almost immediately, things will start happening so have a rubber spatula nearby to scrape the sides while lightly stirring the chips on the bottom. It should take about 2 minutes for the chocolate to be completely melted.
Can I Use a Microwave to melt the chocolate?
If a microwave is your only option to melt chocolate, I have included instructions in the recipe below on how to proceed. Just be sure to take your time—stopping every 30 seconds (and no, I’m not kidding) to stir the chips. Chocolate can burn and/or seize up (harden) very quickly in a microwave and there’s no recovering. Not a pretty sight and you’ll have wasted a bag of chocolate chips which could also have been used for late-night cookie dough cravings or piling on a spoonful of peanut butter. I might know someone who does that.
A Bulletproof Team: BUTTER AND COFFEE
Maybe it should be called Bulletproof Dark Chocolate Bark, right? A little butter + a little java is a flavor booster like no other and the butter helps the chocolate set up just right and adds a rich, little oomph. I melt the butter (a microwave is fine in this instance since you are melting the whole thing – side note: never use it to soften butter for baking) and add the espresso powder and stir gently to combine. The powder will dissolve in the butter and the whole combo can be stirred right into the chocolate.
Storing Dark Chocolate bark
You have a few options:
- Store in the refrigerator to keep it crisp.
- To freeze:
- Add the bark pieces to freezer-safe bags laying them on their side flat in the freezer.
- Cut the bark in 1/2 down the middle leaving two square. Place in a freezer-safe container with a lid.
- Freeze for up to 2 months
Dark Chocolate Bark Toppings
So— you can’t call something bark without adding something to it, can you? Or is it called “bark” because the texture looks a little rough like tree bark? Let’s go with the latter. But, while we are at it, let’s add some toppings to make it interesting:
- dried cherries
- toasted hazelnuts
- flakey sea salt
You’ll have all those ingredients prepped and as soon as you have poured your chocolate on your prepared baking sheet, you’ll sprinkle the toppings over top from biggest (cherries) to smallest (pistachios). Next, let the chocolate harden for a few minutes in the freezer before slicing down the middle and then in criss-cross triangles using a sharp slicing knife. Of course, you’re free to add whatever else you like.
- diced dried apricots, blueberries or strawberries
- unsweetened coconut
- chopped toasted almonds or macadamia nuts
- mini chocolate chips or white chocolate chips.
Endless possibilities. Yup, that’s how I like my chocolate. Endless.
For a few: Make the recipe as is. Freeze so you can have it when those chocolate cravings hit.
For a crowd: Make several versions of the recipe with different add-ins to have on a treat table at a party.
For a thicker bark: Double the chocolate to make a single, thicker slab.
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Dark Chocolate Espresso Bark
- double boiler
- 1 package extra dark chocolate chips, 61%
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tsp espresso powder, can use more or less (or none at all!)
- 1/3 cup chopped dried cherries
- 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts, lightly toasted*
- 1/3 cup pistachios, shelled
- flakey sea salt, like Maldon
- Line a jelly roll sized (10"x15" approx) baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a saucepan over simmering water, melt chocolate chips in a heatproof glass bowl. If you have a double boiler you can do this as well. [see below for microwave instructions] This will take about 2 minutes so stir the chocolate often but not too vigorously.
- In a small bowl, combine the melted butter and espresso powder until the powder is dissolved. Turn off the heat.
- Add the butter/espresso mixture to chocolate. Stir gently to combine.
- Pour the chocolate out onto the prepared baking sheet. Use an icing spatula to make a long rectangle down the center of the parchment paper.
- Starting with the cherries and ending with the pistachios, sprinkle the toppings all over the chocolate. Gently press the fruit and nuts into the chocolate and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Place in a freezer for 15 minutes (or a cold garage or porch).
- Using a sharp long knife, cut the bark lengthwise down the middle into 2 long rectangles. Then cut each half into 8 triangles, alternating directions.
- Microwave Directions:
- Place chocolate chips in a heatproof glass bowl. Heat in 30 second increments stirring in between each time until melted.
- Proceed with recipe.
- Optional toppings/mixins:
- more chocolate chips
- dried apricots, blueberries or strawberries
- flakey unsweetened coconut
- add a sprinkle of cinnamon to the butter/coffee mix