We’re officially into the holiday season, and if you’re doing a DIY gift exchange with your friends this year, you should definitely think about making a batch of chocolate bark. This sweet treat is quick and easy to whip up, and it makes a beautiful gift simply layered in a pretty container.
For a change from my usual bark, this year I'm making this cherry cheesecake twist. White chocolate gets a tangy lift from lemon zest, and it’s topped with crisp graham crackers, crunchy sliced almonds, and chewy, sweet dried cherries. The combination of textures and flavors is so irresistible, you should probably make a double batch and keep some for yourself!
Bark is one of the easiest candy projects you can make. It doesn't require any fussy steps or tempering of the chocolate — though you can definitely do that for an extra snappy, high-gloss result if you’re so inclined. The whole batch is made in one go. Instead of molding or dipping individual candies, you just spread melted chocolate out onto a lined baking sheet, sprinkle on some toppings, and let the whole thing set in the fridge until firm. Break or cut it into pieces, and you’re done.
Since you’re using so few ingredients, you want to make sure that each one is of excellent quality and flavor. Don’t skimp on the chocolate here. Rather than buying white “morsels” that don’t contain an ounce of cocoa butter, or heaven forbid, those bleach-white “candy melts,” go ahead and spring for the real thing. I love Guittard couverture chocolate disks for their fantastic flavor, and that's what I’ve used here. You can also use regular white chocolate candy bars or chips — just make sure the ingredient list includes cocoa butter, and you’ll know you’re getting a high-quality product.
White Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Bark
16 ounces good-quality white chocolate (bars, couverture disks, or chips)
Zest of one large lemon
2 whole graham cracker rectangles, broken into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup dried cherries
Line a standard (18x13-inch) baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
If using chocolate bars, break into 1/2-inch pieces. Place the chocolate and lemon zest in a medium heat-proof mixing bowl (tempered glass or stainless steel). Fill a medium (2-quart) saucepan with two inches of water and bring it to a simmer. Set the bowl of chocolate on top of the saucepan, making sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the surface of the water.
Stir the chocolate with a heat-proof spatula as it melts. When it is mostly melted, and just a few small lumps remain, remove the bowl from the heat. Stir until the chocolate is completely smooth and no lumps remain.
Pour the chocolate onto the lined baking sheet, scraping the bowl clean. Use the back of the spatula to spread the chocolate out into an even layer on the sheet pan, about a 1/4-inch thick. Work fairly quickly, as you want the chocolate to be sticky enough for the toppings.
Immediately after spreading out the chocolate, sprinkle the graham crackers, sliced almonds, and dried cherries evenly over the top. Use the palm of your hand to gently press the toppings into the chocolate.
Place the sheet pan in the fridge until the chocolate has firmed up, about 1 hour. Break or slice the bark into generously sized pieces.
Store the bark in an airtight container in a cool, dark pantry or in the fridge. It will keep for up to 1 month.