Easy Layered Candy Bark is a delicious layering of melted chocolate with unlimited toppings like cookies, candy, nuts, etc. Perfect gift for the holidays.
The best thing about chocolate bark is the fact that you really can create the best chocolate bar on earth with exactly what you want to include in it! How amazing is that?
I just wish I knew about chocolate bark when I was young, or at least my mother knew about it.
I remember every once and a while being able to pick out any chocolate bar I wanted to have as a treat and always wishing there was a chocolate bar in existence that included all of my favorite things.
With a recipe like Easy Layered Candy Bark you can literally create the chocolate bar of your dreams! I always do and I just can't help myself. This is one of the easiest sweet treats to throw together! Too easy really.
Pretty much everyone I know has chocolate chips in their pantry and most have peanut butter, caramel, white or butterscotch chips too, or will consider purchasing some, just so they are ready to make this bark at a moments notice!
I almost feel guilty sharing this simple recipe with you just because of how easy and convenient it is to make. You can flavor the chocolate with peppermint, vanilla, almond, strawberry, orange, or your favorite extract or oil.
Next, you get to decide what treats you want to include and there are so many to choose from. Anything and everything goes. From nuts of all kinds, to cookies, cream filled and not, crushed mints, chocolate covered morsels of every kind, sprinkles or sparkles in the colors you desire!
Remember to have fun creating your own delicious piece of art!
What is Chocolate Bark?
What is the difference between Chocolate and Almond Bark?
Different Kinds of Chocolate
There are a few substitutions for regular chocolate if you don't have any on hand. See the list down below. Please keep in mind that using different chocolates may alter the flavor and color of the chocolate.
Substitute the exact same amount of whichever type of chocolate you desire and be prepared to possibly add 1 - 2 tablespoons of butter or shortening to it to smooth out the texture because of additives in the chocolate.
The more money you spend on your chocolate will generally mean less additives.
White chocolate is generally a chocolate confection made up of cocoa butter (not cocoa beans), sugar, and milk solids. It may contain other sweeteners and flavoring like vanilla. It is characterized by it's pale ivory color and high melting point.
Milk chocolate is a sweet chocolate that you can either or use in recipes, especially cookie recipes or just to snack on. It contains about 10% cocoa with added sugar, milk and cocoa butter.
Almond Bark (Confectionery Coating) comes in a bunch of forms from chips to blocks to squares. Despite its name, it doesn't contain nuts and is valued for its texture, taste, and melting ease. Although, you're most likely going to have to add 1 - 2 tablespoons butter or shortening as well since it doesn't contain any cocoa butter or chocolate liquor.
Unsweetened chocolate Made solely of cocoa butter and cocoa solids, the taste of this chocolate is bitter and unsuitable for eating directly, so it's only used in baking. It's great in cake, cookie or brownie recipes.
Dark chocolate Since it's sweeter than unsweetened chocolate and has less sugar, It's quite popular with those that want a sweet treat but are health conscious because it has less sugar than other chocolates. It has 35% cocoa.
Bittersweet chocolate is a sweetened dark chocolate that also contains at least 35% cocoa. It is mostly used in baking and is great for recipes that call for a strong chocolate flavor.
Semi-sweet chocolate This chocolate is also made with at least 35% cocoa and is the most versatile form of chocolate. It's ideal for baking and eating and can be found in many chocolate chip cookie recipes. It also has cocoa butter and sugar added.
Tips for Making the Best Chocolate Bark
- Add a tablespoon or two of butter or vegetable shortening to smooth out melted chocolate if necessary as some chocolates can contain additives that can make melting a challenge. Chocolate chips are known for having ingredients included that prevent smoothe melting.
- The higher the quality of ingredients, specifically the chocolate, the better when making a recipe such as this. Try and avoid chocolates with palm or coconut oil and focus on obtaining chocolate that contains real cocoa butter. The layers will hold together and set as they should if you do.
- Brands like Ghirardelli, Lindt, Callebaut, Valrhona or even Baker’s brand chocolate, and I am not getting paid to say this, are best for making bark of any variety.
- Use disposable rubber gloves or plastic bags on your hands to break apart the chocolate sheet to prevent the heat from your hands from melting the chocolate as you are snapping the sheet into manageable, bite sized pieces. Your other alternative is to run a knife under hot water and then dry it off to use for cutting and will make your slices cleaner looking if you refuse to use your fingers and hands!
- Avoid freezing the chocolate, unless absolutely necessary, to avoid the chocolate layers from possibly separating
- If you are using a hard candy like candy canes or peppermints to decorate your bark I find the easiest way to crush it is inside a resealable bag. Use a rolling pin or even you meat mallet or meat hammer to crush the candy.
- If your chocolate layers do separate, you can easily remelt the chocolate on low heat on your stovetop or in your microwave. Separately, or together (you can gently swirl them both together), melt and repour on top of a baking sheet.
- Heat your chocolate as slowly and as possible! Chocolate is so easy to burn which will ruin the taste, texture and useability.
- If microwaving your chocolate avoid using pyrex, glass or porcelain bowls if possible as they retain a lot of heat and can easily burn your chocolate if you're not careful. Paper plates work great and don't involve any clean up at all!
- If you decide to microwave your chocolate to melt it make sure to do so in short bursts of 20 to 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, at 60 or 70% power. Yes it takes a little longer but the chocolate will melt much better and it won't take as long as you would think!
- Proper tempering of chocolate, which is heating and cooling chocolate to stabilize, after cooling and solidified, for making treats, giving it a smooth and glossy finish, keeps it from easily melting on your fingers, and allow for making chocolate-covered treats. More information on tempering here
How to Store Easy Layered Candy Bark
As with most other chocolates, Easy Layered Candy Bark is best stored in a tightly sealed container in a dark cool place or in your refrigerator! You can't let it get too warm, or it could and will likely melt!
This chocolate will last for at least a month, if not longer, in your fridge, even though I doubt t will last that long. Mine never does.
Can you freeze Easy Layered Candy Bark?
You could freeze Easy Layered Candy Bark even though I wouldn't myself. This candy is shelf stable in a cool location or in the fridge but if you insist remember to wrap it in parchment, then tinfoil and into a resealable freezer bag with as much air sucked out as possible.
If do want to warn you that depending on what kind of chocolate you use the layers can separate if frozen. It doesn't always happen but it definitely can and I would hate to see all of your hard work go to waste!
Also, with some types of chocolate, when defrosted can have an odd texture or feel that is different from the original finished product.
How to Break Easy Layered Candy Bark
All you have to do is quickly snap the chocolate sheet into smaller, more manageable, serving size pieces. I have rubber gloves around which make this task easier as the heat from your hands can and will eventually start to melt the chocolate.
When I am out of gloves I place a plastic bag over each hand and break the bark that way so I don't end up with chocolate on my fingers and I don't disturb the look of the bark with my warm fingerprints! That's a WIN WIN!
This Easy Layered Candy Bark is so simple to prepare and super versatile. Just think of your favorite kinds of ingredients and use them.
A great way to use up your little bags or ends of chocolate or peanut butter or caramel chips or sprinkles or sparkles or cookies, especially cream filled cookies, broken up, work beautifully too. It is true but everything will work. Really.
Remember though if you are adding things that might melt in to your melted chocolate, only stir once or twice, to just combine, and pour onto your prepared baking sheet right away to avoid any possible issues.
Options for Easy Layered Candy Bark
This is a basic recipe for this classic holiday treat, but you can absolutely customize it to your liking. I often make changes to the recipe, some of my favorite variations include
- nuts, including coconut
- mints, candy canes or peppermints, crushed
- cream filled cookies
- dried fruits
- broken pretzel
- toffee bits
- butterscotch chips
- chocolate chips
- sea or coarse salt
- caramel chips
- chocolate covered caramels
- sprinkles or sparkles (festive colors, if desired or required)
Easy Chocolate Bark Variations
Peppermint bark is made by layering chocolate, of all kinds, usually flavored with a half a teaspoon or so of peppermint extract, not mint extract.
Mint extract tends to taste like toothpaste and isn't generally as refreshing. If you don’t have peppermint extract though you can use peppermint oil. Just remember to use about ¼ of the amount of oil that the recipe calls for.
Next, you have two choices. You can sprinkle the top of your last layer with crushed candy canes or peppermints all over it, immediately after the melted chocolate has been poured.
Your other option is to stir some of the crushed peppermints in to your melted chocolate right before pouring it and then sprinkling a few more on top after pouring for presentation purposes. It looks so pretty and the crunchy texture is terrific! The choice though is up to you.
Remember to only stir your melted chocolate a few times once you have added the crushed mints or candy canes so they don't melt into your chocolate.
Christmas Easter, Valentine's Day, or Halloween Bark Use festive sprinkles or candy colors that reflect the traditional holiday you are celebrating.
For Easter use pastels, Christmas some red and green, for Valentines lots of red and maybe some pink and for Halloween lots of orange and black! My close friend, who loves this stuff, gets a pink themed bark, every year on her birthday, and has for years.
Use your imagination because anything and everything will work. Remember your bark is a blank slate or canvas for you to create your own work of art on!
Caramel Bark Add ¼ the amount of chocolate you are using for that layer, in caramel chocolate chips. You will likely need to add a tablespoon or two of butter or vegetable shortening to smooth out the chocolate caramel mixture.
Maybe you want to also add a small sprinkling of sea salt or some salted nuts sprinkled on top and/or inside the layer. Both taste amazing with it if you like that sort of thing!
Peanut Butter Bark Add ¼ the amount of chocolate you are using for that layer, in peanut butter chocolate chips. You will likely need to add a tablespoon or two of butter or vegetable shortening to smooth out the chocolate peanut butter mixture.
Alternatively, or at the same time, you can always stir in some peanut butter cups to your melted chocolate right before pouring. If you enjoy peanut butter and chocolate you will love this!
Swirled Bark Pour your first layer as usual. When you start to pour the second layer, do so in strips from one end of the sheet to the other. Next, immediately grab a butter knife and move it back and forth, through the strips, making a swirly kind of pattern.
It doesn't need to be perfect, and it won't be, but it will look great!
Sprinkle Bark (Festive or Not) Add a handful of sprinkles to the melted chocolate right before you pour it or add them all over the top of your last layer after you pour it. Either way your bark will look great!
Layered Bark Start with a layer of a dark colored chocolate, then white chocolate, a layer of caramel or peanut butter chocolate and then finished with a white chocolate layer and some decorations that you are in the mood for or have on hand. Just incredible!
Colored Bark If you decide to use a white chocolate you can either add a few drops of food coloring to all of it or reserve some and only add food coloring to that portion and drizzle the small amount of colored white chocolate all over the top of your chocolate bark. Both look gorgeous!
Years ago we made what we called princess unicorn bark for my niece. We took every pastel color and made a layer in that color and included different colored sparkles all over the top of it. It was so bright, she absolutely loved it and that is all that really matters.
Ingredients in Easy Layered Candy Bark
- milk chocolate chips or the chocolate of your choosing
- white chocolate chips or the chocolate of your choosing
- 1-2 tablespoons of butter or vegetable shortening to smooth chocolate if necessary, I usually add it myself
- holiday specific treats like conversation hearts for Valentine's Day, or anything else you desire, including sprinkles or sparkles
Using a double boiler, or heat water, to boiling, in a medium sized pot over medium heat and place a metal bowl on top of it to melt chocolate or use your microwave.
If using your microwave, warm chocolate on 60-70 percent power for 30 seconds at first and then in 15-20 second bursts, stirring in between each interval, until only a few lumps remain.
Using a paper plate that is disposable is the easiest here in terms of cleanup, otherwise a dry, microwave safe dish is required. Remember that most microwave safe dishes will retain their heat and the chocolate will continue to melt after being removed from the microwave.
Melting chocolate has to be done slowly so please be patient. You will be glad you did.
If you are using peanut butter or caramel chips, they can be included in the microwave with or without the other chocolate you are using. Just remember lower heat and stir in between short bursts of heating and your chocolate, peanut butter or caramel chips will turn out just fine.
Pour chocolate chips in your pot, metal bowl, paper plate or microwave safe dish, and melt, stirring frequently until smooth. Regardless of your melting method, if needed add a tablespoon or two of butter or shortening if needed to smooth. I usually do.
Spread in a rectangle over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside to cool for 30 minutes. You should aim for 8 inches by 10 inches but it is never perfect so don't worry too much about the exact size!
Repeat with white chocolate chips, and then pour and spread over the top of your chocolate. I love using an offset spatula to do it but the back of a spoon or even a butter knife will work!
Quickly sprinkle decorations, including conversation hearts and sprinkles over your white chocolate, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Once set, break apart and enjoy.
The Best Edible Gift
To create an edible gift, all you need to do is take a trip to your local dollar store and find some seasonal cups or containers of some kind that will hold your treats, if any, and/or some cellophane wrap and some ribbon.
Next, I placed the container on top of a square cut piece of cellophane, lifted and gathered all of the cellophane together and tied it up with ribbon. Add on a gift tag and there you have it, your edible gift is finished ready to go!
Suggestions for Edible Gifts
Holiday Desserts to Try
Easy Layered Candy Bark Video
Easy Layered Candy Bark
- double boiler or pot filled with boiling water with a metal bowl on top
- rimmed baking sheet (no larger than 11x7)
- ½ cup conversation hearts
- Heat water in a medium sized pot over medium heat and place a metal bowl on top with chocolate chips and a tablespoon or two of butter or shortening to smooth it out if necessary. I usually do.
- Melt chocolate chips, stirring frequently until smooth.
- Spread in about an 8 x 10 inch rectangle, although the size doesn't matter that much, on to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside to cool for 30 minutes. If you want to speed up the cooling process, just pop the pan into the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Repeat above steps with white chocolate chips, and then melt and pour on top of your first layer.
- Spread melted chocolate over the top of your chocolate, as evenly as possible.
- Quickly sprinkle your chosen treats, whether they be conversation hearts and sprinkles or whatever, all over your white chocolate, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Break apart and enjoy every bite!