There’s something about the holiday season that makes my chocolate craving kick into full force. Maybe it’s the versatility of it and how you can eat it as a bar, in a cake, or even as a drink. But this year, I wanted to expand my horizons as a chocolate lover and explore vegan options for enjoying my favorite treat: vegan chocolate almond bark.
Chocolate bark is what I consider to be the slightly thicker close cousin of a regular chocolate bar and with the help of Lagusta Yearwood, vegan chocolatier and founder of Lagusta’s Luscious in New York, I set off on my journey to making it myself at home.
“Barks are really fun because you can kind of do whatever. It’s just this beautiful blank canvas and if you have a beautiful roasted nut or some fancy pistachios or Marcona almonds, you can put those on there,” Yearwood says. At Lagusta’s Luscious, her words definitely ring true, as there are multiple vegan chocolate barks, slates and tablets to choose from with fun ingredients like dried lavender and candied hibiscus.
Since I’m a huge almond fan, I decided to have a go at making the vegan chocolate almond bark. I was pleased to discover that making it is quite simple. You only need three ingredients and luckily, I had them in my kitchen already.
One thing that always kept me from wanting to make my own chocolate bars at home was that I thought I’d need to go through the process of tempering the chocolate. As someone who wasn’t the best chemistry student in college, I figured it would save me a headache to just buy chocolate from the store. But Yearwood put my anxiety at ease when she told me that it’s possible to avoid the full on tempering process and still come out with a nice bark.
I took four of Taza Chocolate’s Wicked Dark bars, which Yearwood uses at her chocolate shop along with Republica Del Cacao, placed them in a glass bowl and microwaved it in 30 second increments until the chocolate was melted. Then, I carefully poured the melted chocolate onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, mixed in a cup of toasted almonds, and used a spatula to spread it out into a thin layer.
“Chocolate bark is a thing that you have to buy very little for which is cool because it’s a nice way to use up little bits of things here and there in your kitchen,” Yearwood says. “You want to avoid anything that’s wet, like maraschino cherries or something that’ll make your chocolate weird. But other than that, go wild.”
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While the thickness of your bark is entirely up to you, Yearwood suggests doing a thicker bark if you’re packaging it up as gifts for the holidays so it doesn’t break into pieces.
To give my bark a little pizazz, I added just a tiny bit of smoked sea salt on top of the layer.
If you can, avoid putting your bark mixture into the fridge for long periods of time, but that you can put it in for about five minutes just to let it set.
“If you keep it in the fridge too long, it could produce condensation. If you do want to put it in the fridge because you have things in it that might get weird at room temperature, you can just put it in a sealed container. The good thing about the bark is that it’ll keep forever as long as it’s at a good temperature and not exposed to weird flavors,” Yearwood says.
Since I didn’t want soggy chocolate and my kitchen typically stays pretty chilly, I decided to go with her advice and pop it into the fridge for a few minutes and then return it to my counter so it could continue to firm up.
After 20 minutes, I went back to check on my chocolate and it had successfully turned into bark! The last thing to do was just chop it up into medium sized pieces. Easy as pie…or in this case, chocolate.
1. Microwave your chocolate in 30 second increments until it’s just melted. Stir until it’s smooth. 2. Pour the melted chocolate into a parchment paper-lined baking or cookie sheet. 3. Fold almonds into the chocolate and use a spatula to spread it into a thin layer. 4. Sprinkle smoked sea salt on top. 5. Cover and place into the fridge for 5 minutes to let it set. 6. Remove the sheet from the fridge and place on a counter at room temperature. 7. Let sit for 20 minutes, cut into pieces and serve. Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.
The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.
From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.
Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.
Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.