Guess what? In exactly three months’ time, it will be Christmas day! I’ve already started my shopping – I’ve got a whole advent calendar to put together for Katie after all – and I’m about ready to start on my Christmas baking. Mulled wine and a Terry’s chocolate orange in the Sainsbury’s order this weekend! I’ve got some great ideas in the pipeline for this November and December, so definitely get excited for that.
In the meantime, today’s recipe.
This Rocky Road Chocolate Bark is entirely inspired by the Hotel Chocolat Giant Slab – it’s filled with puffed rice, and has little cookie pieces alllll over it. Plus marshmallows, because what would rocky road be without some mallows, right?
If you’ve ever messed around with melted chocolate before, then you’ll know it can be a tricky beast. It all seems incredibly easy at first – melt in the microwave, spread on some paper, leave to set. Job done. But, if you want to make bark that’s as good as Hotel Chocolat, then you’re going to need to temper the chocolate first. And although tempering might sound awfully scary, you can totally do it without any fancy equipment or experience at all. Trust me.
What happens if I don’t temper my chocolate? Can you even tell the difference? And what the hell is ‘tempering’ anyway?
When chocolate hasn’t been tempered, it means that the fat in the chocolate has separated out. It also means that your chocolate isn’t shiny, it turns a weird colour, and it doesn’t have a nice satisfying snap when you break it. Chocolate bars you buy in the supermarket are always tempered, and an it’s definitely worth taking the little bit of extra time and effort to get your melted chocolate back in temper before you make something where the chocolate is the star of the show – like bark.
Okay, so the next thing you are going to want to know is how to go about actually tempering chocolate. It’s easy, trust me.
Step 1 – you’re going to melt three quarters of the chocolate. Do this in the microwave, on a medium-low setting (not on high like usual), giving it a stir every minute or so to stop it burning. Once the chocolate has completely melted, you need to check it is hot enough. The easiest way to do this is to dab a bit of the melted chocolate on your skin, just underneath your bottom lip. Your skin is really sensitive there, which is great for testing temperatures.
If the melted chocolate stings ever-so-slightly, then it’s warm enough. You don’t want it to hurt, just to feel pretty warm. If it is still only slightly warm, then pop it back in the microwave for another minute.
Step 2 – next, you need to add the remaining quarter of the chocolate, which you’ve broken up into little pieces. Stir it in to the melted chocolate, which will help to cool the chocolate down, and also help show all the melted, un-tempered chocolate how to get back into temper. Keep stirring for 5 or 10 minutes, until most of the chocolate has melted. You are going to test the temperature of the chocolate again by dabbing some under your bottom lip, but this time you are aiming for it to feel cooler than your body temperature. If it feels warm, or it doesn’t feel any temperature at all, then keep stirring for a bit longer, until it’s cool enough.
Once it feels cool on your skin, then you’re done. You’ve got yourself a bowl of melted tempered chocolate, just perfect for your rocky road chocolate bark.
Okay, so the chocolate is ready. To make this nice and crispy we’re going to stir in some puffed rice. Yep, this is a little different from your usual bark recipe! The rice will give the bark a nice crunchy texture that’s just perfect for a rocky road. Spread the chocolate out on a piece of baking parchment (you’re aiming for a slab the size of an A4 piece of paper) and then top with chunks of chocolate chip cookie, mini marshmallows, and white chocolate chips.
Honestly, I didn’t make the cookies myself. I used Maryland ones from the store, but you can make your own if you like, or buy whatever your favourite cookie brand is. Double chocolate cookies would be amazing here too – the world is your oyster! Just break them up in to chunks, and press them into the chocolate.
You could definitely give this as a slab like Hotel Chocolat, or you could break it up into shards like I did. The great thing about having tempered your chocolate is that it will snap really cleanly, so no worries about scoring the chocolate beforehand. You can store the bark at room temperature, but make sure you keep it in an air-tight container to help keep the cookies from going super soft.
Right, enough about chocolate. I’ve got to get to grips with my Halloween recipe for next month – I’m trying something very colourful this year, with sprinkles and orange, and green. And maybe purple? A bit more in your face than last year’s Pumpkin Spice Cookies, that’s for sure. I’m definitely feeling a bit more of the Halloween spirit this year – I definitely want to get all dressed up and go to a Halloween party or something. If only I had a child to take trick or treating!
Ahh, never mind. I’m sure we can spook up the apartment and watch Scream instead. Sounds perfect.
- 400g (14oz) good quality milk or dark chocolate (semi-sweet or bitter-sweet), broken up
- 25g (1 cup) puffed rice
- 50g (2 oz) chocolate chip cookies
- A handful of mini marshmallows
- 25g (1 oz) white chocolate chips
- To temper the chocolate, place about 300g (10 oz) of the milk or dark chocolate in a medium bowl, and melt in the microwave on medium-low in one minute intervals, stirring well between each. Once the chocolate has completely melted, using a spatula dab some of the chocolate just below your bottom lip. If it feels hot and stings slightly, it is ready. If not, pop back in the microwave for a bit longer.
- Once the chocolate is ready, put the remaining pieces of milk or dark chocolate into the bowl and stir gently. Keep stirring for 5-10 minutes. The chocolate needs to get down to a cool enough temperature before it has been completely tempered, and you can test this by again placing some chocolate just below your bottom lip. If the chocolate feels cooler than body temperature, then it is ready. If it still feels warm, or you don't feel anything at all, then keep stirring it until it is cool enough. Now your chocolate has been tempered. Add the puffed rice to the bowl and stir until all the rice has been coated.
- Line a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper or baking parchment and pour the melted chocolate onto it. Using an offset spatula or knife, spread the chocolate out to about an 8 x 12 inch rectangle, making sure it is level. Break the chocolate chip cookies up into chunks and randomly place them on top of the chocolate, pressing in so they stick. Dot the mini marshmallows and white chocolate chips in between the cookies, pressing them in to the chocolate as you go. Place the bark in the fridge to set for 1-2 hours, or until hard. Once hard, break into shards.
- Keep the bark in an airtight container somewhere cool and dry and it may keep for 2-3 weeks. The cookies on top of the bark may become softer over time, but the bark will still taste delicious.