My dad loves chocolate with nuts in it, and I noticed that we had some baker’s chocolate in one of the cabinets, so I decided to make some chocolate almond bark. My mom eats 100% cacao chocolate (for all the health benefits of dark chocolate and apparently none of the joy), which is why we had the baker’s chocolate. Yeah, I know. 100%? I shudder at the thought of it. I love 70% cacao chocolate but 100% seems inhumane to me when chocolate is supposed to be a treat. Alas, to each his own.
Anyways, in my journey in figuring out how to make chocolate almond bark that would taste good out of 100% cacao chocolate, I learned a lot about how I never learned anything about chocolate. Apparently there are magical things like tempering and magical-sounding-but-not-that-great things like blooming, and horrible-sounding-things like seizing. Maybe they tell you this stuff during the Hershey’s Park tour but let’s be real, every kid just wants the free Hershey’s bar at the end.
My process for making the chocolate almond bark was to melt the baker’s chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, add sugar and a little butter, spread it out on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil, and pepper with pre-roasted and -salted almonds.
One of the first things I learned was that sugar does not melt that easily in chocolate, and it made the chocolate gritty. Furthermore, although I looked up how many grams of sugar corresponded to the volume of sugar I was adding (keeping in mind how sweet my regular 70% chocolate bars were) it seemed like the chocolate was not nearly sweet enough. This led me to realize that the sugar really wasn’t doing much for the chocolate because of how I was incorporating it.
In the end, I made a syrup by boiling a tiny amount of water with brown sugar until there was no more vapor coming off of the syrup and then drizzling this over the chocolate. Another thing I learned: hot syrup pours pretty fast so let it cool and thicken up a bit if you want to be able to control the patterns you’re making/where all the syrup is going.
Another mistake I made was pouring the mixture onto too small of a space. This made the bark way too thick, and while this thickness may have worked for an actual chocolate bar, I wanted thinner bark. As a result, I broke up my newly made chocolate almond bar and remelted it. The benefit of this second chance: I got almonds that were enveloped by the chocolate rather than just almonds sticking haphazardly on top of the chocolate from pressing them in after spreading out the chocolate. The almonds you see naked and exposed are in addition to the enveloped almonds from the first attempt. This second attempt was actually when I made the sugar glaze.
I’m still no expert on chocolate, so it’s very possible that those spots I see are fat blooms, and it’s almost a certainty that this chocolate’s crystalline structure is not properly aligned. Ultimately, the bark tastes pretty good, but there are definitely many things I could have done better.
Third time’s the charm, right?