Chocolate bark is one of the great pleasures of the Christmas season. It is a treat to keep in a bowl and serve to guests, family, and friends. As because it's so easy to make, it's a thoughtful homemade edible gift, too.
This delicious pretzel caramel bark will fast become a family favorite with its rich dark chocolate base and a sweet caramel sauce swirled through. The bark is then topped with salty, crunchy mini pretzels. Even better, it takes less than 15 minutes to make. Do not use a salted caramel sauce for this recipe, since it could turn out to be too salty with the pretzel pieces.
A good quality cooking chocolate will always work best for making bark. Do not use eating chocolate as it has a much higher in sugar and does not set as well. We used chocolate callets (small chocolate discs) since those will melt quickly and have a lovely smooth finish.
Decorate the pretzel caramel bark as you wish. Here, it's finished with tiny pieces of fudge, chocolate stars, and tiny balls, but any cupcake or muffin decorations work well.
- 1 1/4 cups fine sugar
- 2 ounces unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 10 ounces dark cooking chocolate callets
- 2 ounces mini pretzels
- Garnish: any festive holiday decorations such as sprinkles
Gather the ingredients. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper.
Put the fine sugar in a small heavy-based pan. Add 4 tablespoons of cold water and place it on medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then raise the heat and let the sugar bubble until it turns a caramel brown color. Do not leave the pan at all as the change happens very quickly and in moments it can burn and become bitter. If this happens, you will need to start again.
Once bubbling and golden in color, remove the pan from the heat, let it sit for a few minutes then very, very carefully as it may splatter, add the butter and cream and stir vigorously until everything is incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Set aside.
Put 8 ounces of the dark chocolate callets (or roughly chopped chocolate) into a glass or metal bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, not letting let the bowl touch the water or it will be too hot and scorch the chocolate. It is best to allow the chocolate to melt slowly, which is why with this recipe, it is advisable not to use the microwave as it can quickly overheat the chocolate.
Once melted, remove from the heat and using a wooden spoon, gently stir in the remaining dark chocolate into the warm until completely melted, which is a simple method of tempering the chocolate.
Pour the dark chocolate onto the non-stick paper-covered tray. Smooth out the chocolate using a spatula or a tablespoon in gentle waves. The chocolate does not need to spread across the whole sheet and can be left wavy at the edges.
Using a tablespoon, quickly swish over caramel sauce drizzling all over the chocolate in freeform swirls (any leftover caramel sauce can be stored, in the refrigerator). Then as soon as you have done this, press the mini pretzels into the sauce and chocolate. Finish the decoration with lots of sprinkles, stars, chocolate pieces as you wish.
Pop the tray into the fridge until completely cold and well set. The bark is then ready to cut or break into pieces.
- Melting two-thirds of the chocolate then stirring in the final third is a simple way of tempering the chocolate. Tempering gives the finished chocolate a lovely shine and snap and also helps it keep longer.
- The pretzel bark can be stored in an airtight tin or box where it will keep well for two to three weeks.