This dark chocolate almond bark with pistachios and cranberries (aka trail mix bark) is an easy antioxidant-rich dessert you can make in no time! The mix of sweet, savory, crunchy, and chewy makes this a satisfying snack to enjoy at any time.
Bark is such a funny name for a chocolate dessert, isn’t it? It shouldn’t sound particularly appetizing, yet it’s too perfect for this recipe! Inspiration came from one of our favorite trail mix combos, after all.
I love whipping up a batch of this easy dark chocolate almond bark for a quick sweet treat. It’s also a great addition to cheese boards, lunch boxes, or served with a bit of yogurt or ice cream. I’m impressed with the versatility of this particular recipe. Once you try it, I think you will be too!
What is chocolate bark?
Chocolate bark is an easy dessert that I used to associate with the winter holidays. You basically have to be new to civilization to not have heard of peppermint bark. It’s everywhere around Christmas!
Of course, bark goes way beyond peppermint! It has a chocolate base, which can be dark, milk, semisweet, or white chocolate, and then whatever toppings you desire.
There was a chocolate shop near where we lived in California a few years ago that had a really delicious bark with potato chips – all made in-house.
Bark is called “bark” because once broken into pieces, it resembles the bark on trees. It’s a popular dessert, and it’s easy to see why. Chocolate bark is usually gluten-free, easy to make, freezer-friendly, and great for favors or food gifts!
How do I make dark chocolate almond bark?
The first step to making bark is to pick your base – usually chocolate – and toppings. I say usually chocolate because sometimes you can have a different base.
For example, I have a frozen yogurt bark recipe here. Interestingly enough, also trail mix inspired, haha. We are onto something here.
You don’t have to commit to a single kind of chocolate! Some really lovely bark recipes are made by swirling 2 kinds of chocolate together. In my easy patriotic bark recipe, you can see the effect.
If you plan to store your chocolate bark at room temperature and would like it to have that satisfying “snap” when you break it into pieces, you have 2 options. You’ll either need to temper your chocolate or use compound chocolate.
If you’d like to temper chocolate, you can find how to do that here. For this recipe, we are going to stick to option 2, compound chocolate.
What is compound chocolate?
Compound chocolate may also be labeled as candy coating. This is chocolate mixed with a stabilizer like palm oil. The stabilizer makes it so you can melt it and use it immediately for candy-making or coating things like cake pops.
I prefer to use compound chocolate for bark most of the time because it’s easy, quick, and basically foolproof. Just make sure that you melt the chocolate slowly, don’t overheat it, and don’t get water in it! Moisture causes chocolate to seize (form tiny little clumps and feel gritty).
Once your chocolate is melted, spread it onto a silicone sheet, parchment paper, or wax paper, and add your desired toppings.
Mix some of the toppings into the chocolate to make a thicker bark with toppings inside, or just sprinkle on top of your warm chocolate. For extra chocolate, drizzle more over the toppings in pretty ribbons.
Once your chocolate has set, snap it into pieces and store in an airtight container. It’s that easy to make bark!
How do I store my trail mix bark?
Once your chocolate has set, break your bark into pieces and store it in an airtight container. At room temperature, the bark can last at least a month. There are no perishable ingredients in this recipe.
If you would like to store the recipe for longer, freeze it! It’s so easy to grab a piece out of the freezer and eat it cold, or just wait 5 minutes and it’s ready to enjoy. We have never had bark last that long, but it’s safe to say that you can store it for up to 6 months in the freezer.
If you freeze, you may notice a little blooming on your chocolate. Blooming is a whitish coating that appears for one of two reasons. The first possibility, the chocolate temperature was too high and so the cocoa fat solids separated a bit when the chocolate set. The second possible reason would be moisture that causes the sugar to bloom and slightly crystallize.
Neither affects the chocolate, they just don’t look pretty. Bark has never lasted that long in this house, but it merits sharing just in case as I have had bloom appear depending on the brand of candy melts I’ve used. You can still eat your delicious treat!
I hope you love this recipe, darlings! Happy candy-making!
- 1 12-ounce bag dark compound chocolate (candy coating)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds, chopped
- Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat, parchment paper, or wax paper.
- Melt your dark chocolate candy coating according to the package instructions until smooth.
- Pour the chocolate onto your lined baking sheet and use an offset spatula to smooth into an even layer.
- Top the chocolate with your cranberries, almonds, and pistachios.
- Allow the chocolate to set at room temperature for 15-20 minutes, or in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes until set.
- Snap the bark into pieces and store it in an airtight container at room temperature for a month, or freeze for longer storage.
- You can find dark chocolate candy coating at most grocery stores, craft stores, or online.
- If your compound chocolate doesn't come with melting instructions, you have two options. The first is to use a double-boiler and melt the chocolate over medium-low heat on the stovetop. The second is to use the microwave. To melt your compound chocolate in the microwave, place the desired amount in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute at 50% power and then stir. Heat in additional 30-second intervals at 50% power, stirring after each, until your chocolate is smooth. Be patient, melting slowly will reduce your risk of blooming.
- I use unsalted nuts in this recipe, but salted nuts also work and give more of a salty/sweet contrast to the bark. You'll notice there are a few hazelnuts in the photos. They were part of the nut mix I bought, and I didn't worry about removing them. Adjust the exact mix of nuts to what suits you.
- If your dried cranberries are on the larger side, chop them into smaller pieces for a more balanced bite.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 304Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 72mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 3gSugar: 30gProtein: 5g
These nutrition values are estimates. Exact values will vary depending on the ingredients, brands, and quantities used.