Don’t you love the words healthy and chocolate together? That’s why we love this (almost) healthy chocolate bark recipe. Fast and easy with only three ingredients, this is one of our favorite no-stress, healthy homemade chocolate treats.
But is it actually healthy?
Here’s the thing, chocolate does have some health benefits but we cannot forget that most chocolates are made with a lot of sugar. But with this delicious dark chocolate bark recipe, we attempt to strike a balance. The dark chocolate bark recipe does include sugar but it also includes additional ingredients with health benefits.
(Almost) healthy chocolate bark ingredients
As I mentioned, this healthy bark has only three ingredients. It’s just dark chocolate, your choice of nut or dried fruit (or both) and a crunchy or colorful topping to give this tasty chocolate bark more visual appeal. And unless you’re adding toppings that include gluten, this delicious bark recipe is naturally gluten-free.
Obviously, the key ingredient is chocolate. Without good chocolate, you can’t make great bark.
How to choose the best chocolate for making bark
First of all, to make this the most healthy dark chocolate bark possible, we’re going to choose intensely dark chocolate as the base for this chocolate treat. The darker the chocolate you consume, the more health benefits you’ll reap from the cacao.
What does that mean? Dark chocolate’s health benefits all come from its main ingredient, cacao. But the more you dilute the cacao with things like sugar and dairy, the less potent cacao’s benefits become.
The seed of the cacao pod, also called a cocoa bean, is considered one of the most nutritious aphrodisiac foods on the planet. The main active alkaloid in cacao is called theobromine. Theobromine is a natural stimulant, not unlike caffeine but perhaps a little more gentle.
And then there are the flavonoids in cacao which are exciting from a health standpoint because they’re thought to be anti-inflammatory and may improve blood flow.
You can tell how much cacao is in a dark chocolate bar by looking at the percentage on the label.
Chocolate brands to buy
To make this bark healthy, use a chocolate that is at least 70% cacao. If you enjoy a bar of even darker chocolate, go for it! Chocolates I recommend for this dark bark recipe include:
- Valrhona 70%
- Callebaut Dark Callets
- Green and Black’s 70% Organic Dark Chocolate
- Sharffen Berger 82% Extra Dark
But if you want to use darker chocolate, I would recommend using chocolate that’s as much as 90% cacao. Keep in mind that your finished bark will not be very sweet but it will be intensely chocolatey.
Tips for making the best dark chocolate bark
- The most important thing in making a successful bark is to chop the chocolate very finely and evenly. This way, it will melt evenly.
- Be careful not to let the chocolate burn. Use a double boiler or a metal bowl that fits tightly over a saucepan to melt the chocolate slowly and gently. Be sure to remove it from the heat before you add the chocolate to the bowl. Here are more great tips on cooking with chocolate.
- After you sprinkle your toppings over the top, gently press them in, just enough to make sure that they stick but not enough that they sink into the chocolate.
- Cool the bark thoroughly before breaking it apart. It takes about half an hour for the melted chocolate to cool in the refrigerator. (You can cool it at room temperature but this will take several hours.)
- Break the cooled bark by hand to get the size of bark pieces you desire.
Great add-in combinations
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the possible combinations of add-ins, here are a few great combinations to get you started. As you start to play with the basic homemade chocolate bark recipe, you’ll realize that this is really many chocolate bark recipes in one.
And once you start creating barks, feel free to let your imagination run wild!
- Cranberry pistachio bark with sea salt flakes
- Low-carb bark with 90% dark chocolate, cashew and macadamia nuts and coconut flake on top
- Easy chocolate bark with nuts including a blend of your favorite chopped, salted nuts
- No-nuts chocolate bark filled with your favorite dried fruit pieces and topped with crunchy pumpkin seeds
- Tropical bark with pineapple, cashew, coconut and ginger
- Superfood bark with goji berry and mixed nuts and a sprinkling of pumpkin and chia seeds
- Dried cherry and hazelnut bark topped with cacao nibs and salt flakes
We were inspired to make this healthy dark chocolate recipe by the culinary team at The Oaks at Ojai, which was once a popular weight loss spa near the Southern California coast. The Oaks is gone, lost to wildfire, but the idea of treating yourself to healthy homemade chocolate is one that will never fade out of fashion.
(Almost) Healthy Chocolate Bark
- 4 oz premium dark chocolate, (70% + cacao recommended)
- 2 oz raw nuts and dried fruit of your choice (including walnuts cashews, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, dried cranberries, dried pineapple chunks, dried cherries, dried raspberries, goji berries, currants, raisins)
- optional toppings include pumpkin seeds candied ginger, tangerine zest or shredded, raw coconut, chia seeds, freeze-dried strawberries, cacao nibs, salt flakes
- On a sheet of parchment paper, arrange the fruit and nuts in a square, closely spaced but not overlapping.
- Finely chop the chocolate.
- Heat water in a saucepan or bottom of a double boiler until it comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and add top double boiler pan or a metal bowl that fits tightly into the saucepan without touching the water.
- Add the chopped chocolate to the bowl and stir until it is completely melted.
- Drizzle the chocolate over the fruit and nuts using a spatula to create an even coating, maintaining the square shape.
- Sprinkle with your topping of choice (if using one).
- Refrigerate for one half hour before breaking the bark into 12 or so similar-sized chunks.
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