I’m going to let you in on a secret – chocolate bark is one of the easiest things that you can make, but it will impress the hell out of everyone. Plus, it’s chocolate. Let’s make some shards!
Chocolate bark looks somewhat fancy but takes very little time to put together. A little melting, a little waiting, and boom – you’re done. It’s incredibly versatile, allowing you to create countless variations. Anything that will pair well with chocolate will go well in a chocolate bark. This particular version uses Hazelnuts and Smoked Salt to create a smokey deconstructed Nutella shard.
Smoky Hazelnut Chocolate Bark
Heaping ⅓ Cup Hazelnuts
One 10 oz bag of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks
Smoked Salt, to taste.
First, we need to toast our hazelnuts to remove some of the skins and to ensure a strong, delicious, hazelnutty flavor. Grab a stainless steel or metal pan, throw it on medium-low heat, and toss in the hazelnuts. We are not looking to remove all of the skins, as a little bit of bitterness won’t hurt here. But between mixing the nuts in the pan, throwing them in a food processor, and sifting out the small parts, most of the skins are going to go.
It’s time for a public service announcement – DO NOT LEAVE THE HAZELNUTS ALONE. Nuts can burn, and burn fast. Turns out, burning hazelnuts is punishable by law. Just saying.
You want to constantly stir and watch these nuts until a few sensory cues show up. You’re looking for a strong smell of hazelnuts, you’re looking for some pieces of the shells to crack/fall off in large chunks, and you’re looking for some browning. When more than one of these things start happening, it’s time to pull them off.
Next, dump the hazelnuts into a food processor and pulse until lightly chopped. We want to make sure we don’t process these too far, as we want large chunks of hazelnuts in our chocolate bark. Once you reach the desired consistency, use a small sifter to sift out the super-fine pieces of hazelnut. This is more of a presentation step, but remember – we eat with our eyes. Or something like that.
This is the consistency you're looking for, as far as the hazelnuts are concerned.
Next, using a double boiler, melt the chocolate down. We don’t need to add anything to the chocolate, so simply melt down and then pour onto a baking sheet that has been lined with a silpat. This silpat will change your life – the chocolate will come right off.
Smooth out the chocolate to your desired thickness. I tend to like thin shards of chocolate, but you can lay it on as thick or as thin as you’d like. Once you’ve spread it out, simply sprinkle your chopped hazelnuts evenly over the chocolate. Do the same with the salt and voila, you’re done! Put on as much or as little salt as you like – it really is a personal perference. I go heavy handed, so I used at least a teaspoon of salt, if not more. Because these are small, bite-sized pieces, you can afford to be a little heavy handed, as you want to make sure people get a strong salty note (no jokes).
Throw the pan into the fridge for 1-2 hours – this will allow the chocolate to set. Once firm, pull the tray out and lift up the chocolate. It’s kind of neat to pull off one giant honking sheet of chocolate. Using your hands, simply bust the large piece up into shards. Put in a container and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
So. Fucking. Easy.
Let me know what you think, give this recipe a try, and let me know how it goes!