Share the love: Homemade Chocolate Bark for Shalach Manos Baskets
Semi-sweet chocolate with shredded coconut and nutmeg
Shalach Manos literally translates to "sending of portions" and is a gift of at least two different kinds of ready-to-eat food or drinks sent to friends during Purim. This mitzvah ensures that everyone has enough to eat during Purim and promotes love and friendships. Though traditions and adherence to customs vary, you'll have a hard time finding anyone who'd want to argue the idea of more food and more friendship abounding. More information here, here, and here.
Hamentashen came to mind as the defacto recipe to blog about for Purim but I wanted to share something else as well and hit on the idea of crafting a simple treat to put in Shalach Manos baskets. This Homemade Chocolate Bark would also be welcome set out in bowls at a Purim party or as a snack at a hamentashen-baking marathon. (Baking all those cookies takes a lot of energy! Feed your bakers, people!)
This formula and the resulting sweet goodness are fabulous for several reasons:
- Easy to make and kid friendly - a microwave can do much of the work and kids can participate by choosing mix-ins, stirring, and packaging cooled bark.
- Quick, and therefore feasible to make in large quantity -no baking is involved, chopping is optional, and the bark can be left alone to harden and cool while you clean up. (I make no promises about kitchen helpers sampling the cooling bark....)
- Can be vegan, gluten-free, and pareve - There's no flour or butter to worry about substituting! As long as you choose appropriate ingredients, this is easy to customize for a variety of diets. As always, check your ingredient labels and avoid cross-contamination from other cooking projects.
- It's chocolate - enough said.
Homemade Chocolate Bark Recipe
16 ounces (2 cups )of chocolate; chopped or chips
use dark - and check the label - to keep it vegan or pareve, or use white or milk to your taste)
or a double-layer bark, you'll need an additional 12-16 ounces of chocolate
Approximately one cup of your choice of toppings, chopped small
Crushed peppermint candy on a double layer bark- dark chocolate first, then white next
Shredded coconut and a dash of nutmeg for a beach-themed party (pictured above)
Chopped nuts (cashews and crunchy sea salt are an incredible combination!)
Chopped dried fruit
Mini marshmallows (try with peanuts for Rocky Road style or with crushed graham crackers for S'mores style)
Sprinkles (color coordinated to various holidays and theme parties, of course)
1) Line a standard-size baking sheet with parchment paper (or very lightly grease the baking sheet) and keep at the ready. Get a small flat spatula and big spoon ready too.
2) Put the first 16 ounces of chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high for 45 seconds at a time, stirring between runs, until smooth, shiny, and spreadable. (This can also be done in a heavy-bottomed pot over low heat, stirring constantly.)
3) As soon as it's just smooth and melted, pour chocolate on to the parchment-lined cookie sheet and immediately spread out with the spatula all over the sheet. Don't worry about getting it exactly to the edges or making the edges neat. You just want a thin and even layer of chocolate.
For a double-layer bark, chill the pan, and when it's totally solid repeat Steps 2 and 3 with the second portion of chocolate. Once the second layer of chocolate is poured on, proceed immediately to Step 4.
4) Working quickly, sprinkle your toppings all over the chocolate. If they're chunky, press them in ever so lightly. Alternatively, you could stir the toppings in to the melted chocolate before pouring it on the sheet. That creates a harmonious flavor with each crunchy bit fully enrobed, though I prefer the fanciful prettiness of a sea of colors and textures on top.
5) Chill until firm then break in to irregular pieces and serve or package for gifts. If your kitchen is warm, store in the refrigerator.
White chocolate bark with sea salt and cashews (decorated with silver balls and snowflakes for a Snow White theme)