29 Nov 2022

5 Herbal Chocolate Bark Recipes for the Holidays

With a whole string of winter holidays ahead, the busiest gift-giving time of year is upon us. One of my holiday strategies is to keep a little stash of goodies I can grab on my way out the door to whatever gathering is on the schedule. I find that homemade gifts always make a good impression, especially when you’ve gone to the trouble of making them from scratch using high-quality ingredients. These homemade chocolate bark recipes are a treat that always wow the lucky recipient. 

These recipes go one step further than most chocolate bark recipes in that you actually make the chocolate bark base. It only takes a few quality ingredients to make a luscious and creamy dark chocolate canvas you can paint with toppings to please any palate. Whether I need an item for a gift exchange or a host gift, or if a one-on-one hang turns into an unexpected gift exchange, I find these homemade chocolates never cease to impress. Who doesn’t like getting chocolate?!

Packaged up in cute seasonally themed cellophane bags, tied with twine, and labeled with the ingredients list, you can store these festive chocolates in a cool, dark place and have them ready to grab and go all season long. The effort, care, and intention that go into these chocolate barks make them a truly special gift.

chocolate bark on a counter

5 Chocolate Bark Recipes For the Holidays: A World of Options

The basis for these recipes is actually from a recipe I found years ago on the Herbal Academy blog when I was teaching herbalism workshops in Phoenix, Arizona. The texture of the chocolate from this recipe is so fantastically creamy and the depth of cocoa flavor is unlike any other chocolate I’ve ever had. Since I loved the texture and flavor of the chocolate so much, I took the basics of the recipe and made it my own over and over and over again. 

There are many possibilities when it comes to flavoring and topping your chocolate bark, and I have found this to be a perfect vehicle for some of my favorite aromatic herbal allies. As with most of my favorite recipes, this chocolate bark recipe is one that you can build on endlessly, with only your tastebuds to limit you. Allow me to share a few of my favorite recipes to get your creative juices flowing.

ingredients for rose petal, fennel, and salt chocolate bark

Rose Petal, Candied Fennel, & Sea Salt Chocolate Bark

Rose Petal, Candied Fennel Seed, & Sea Salt Chocolate Bark

This chocolate bark gives flavors of being sweet and floral with a hint of salt.

Ingredients

1 cup food-grade cocoa butter
1 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
¾ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) bean extract
Pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons dried rose (Rosa spp.) petals, powdered
2 tablespoons flaked sea salt
2 tablespoons fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) seed
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons sugar

Directions
  • First, prepare your mix-ins and toppings. I like to powder the rose petals so they flavor the chocolate base evenly. You can powder the rose petals by pulsing them in the blender for a few seconds at a time. Once they are powdered, set your rose petals aside to add to your chocolate bark. You can also measure out your flaked sea salt and set it aside as a bark topping. 
  • Next, candy the fennel seeds. Add water and sugar to a sauté pan. Over medium heat, stir continuously until the sugar dissolves and the mixture bubbles on the pan. Add fennel seeds to the pan, remove from heat, and stir until fennel seeds are fully coated. Then spread the seeds in a single layer onto a piece of wax paper to cool completely, usually about 30 minutes. Once the candied fennel seeds are cooled, gently break them apart and set them aside for topping the bark.

Once all your toppings and mix-ins are prepared, you can start on the chocolate bark base

  • Melt the cocoa butter using a double boiler or a makeshift double boiler made with a saucepan and a glass bowl. The glass bowl should be able to rest with its bottom in the saucepan without touching the bottom of the pan. Fill the pan with just a couple of inches of water, place it on the burner, then rest the bowl in the pan. 
  • Place the cocoa butter and powdered rose petals in the bowl of your double boiler, and set the stove between low and medium heat. Stir occasionally as the cocoa butter melts. Once the cocoa butter is melted turn the stovetop off, and allow it to cool for 5 minutes before you remove the bowl from the pan. Using oven mitts move the bowl to a kitchen towel on the counter.
  • The next step is to emulsify the honey into the cocoa butter. Whenever you’re working to emulsify two ingredients, it is vital to have patience and go slowly. Slowly pour the honey into the cocoa butter with one hand while you whisk the two together in the bowl with the other hand. You could also use a stand mixer or hand mixer for this step, just use a low setting to avoid splashing and overly cooling the mixture. 
  • Whisk in the vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt. Then, add in the cocoa powder bit by bit and stir until the ingredients are fully combined. Pour the chocolate bark base out onto the wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Use a spatula to spread and even out the surface if needed.
  • Sprinkle the candied fennel seeds and sea salt onto the top of the chocolate. you may not want to add the full 2 tablespoons of flaked sea salt or fennel seeds. Use your best judgment when adding your bark toppings.
  • Allow the bark to cool completely overnight in a cool place. 

To Use: 

Once cooled, break the bark apart, package it up in cute little bags, label it, and place the bags in a cool, dark place for storage.

topping chocolate bark with almonds

Date, Cinnamon, & Almond Chocolate Bark

Cinnamon makes this chocolate bark taste warm and familiar and pairs well with the sweet dates and crunchy almonds.

Ingredients

1 cup food-grade cocoa butter
1 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
¾ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) bean extract
Pinch of sea salt
¼ cup dates, chopped
¼ cup almonds, sliced
½ teaspoon cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.), powdered

Directions
  • First, get your toppings and mix-ins ready. Chop the dates into roughly quarter-inch pieces for topping the bark and set aside. Measure ¼ cup of flaked almonds and set aside. 
  • Now to get started on the chocolate base, melt the cocoa butter down using a double boiler or a makeshift double boiler made with a saucepan and a glass bowl. The glass bowl should be able to rest with its bottom in the saucepan without touching the bottom of the pan. Fill the pan with just a couple of inches of water, place it on the burner, then rest the bowl in the pan. 
  • Place the cocoa butter and powdered cinnamon in the bowl of your double boiler, and set the stove between low and medium heat. Stir occasionally as the cocoa butter melts. Then turn the stovetop off. Allow the double boiler to cool for 5 minutes before you remove the bowl from the pan using oven mitts and set on a towel on the kitchen counter.
  • The next step is to emulsify the honey into the cocoa butter. Whenever you’re working to emulsify two ingredients, it is vital to have patience and go slowly. Slowly pour the honey into the cocoa butter with one hand while you whisk the two together in the bowl with the other hand. You could also use a stand mixer or hand mixer for this step, just use a low setting to avoid splashing and overly cooling the mixture.
  • Whisk in the vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt. Then, add the cocoa powder bit by bit and stir until the ingredients are fully combined. Pour the chocolate bark base out onto the wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Use a spatula to spread and even out the surface if needed.
  • Now you can add your toppings. I recommend placing the date pieces rather than attempting to sprinkle them on top of the chocolate, as they are very sticky and will clump together. Distribute them evenly, as you’ll want a little bit of that caramel-like date goodness in each bite. Then sprinkle the top with sliced almonds and allow the bark to cool completely overnight in a cool place. 

To Use: 

Once cooled, break the bark apart, package it up in cute little bags, label it, and place the bags in a cool dark place for storage.

pouring chocolate bark

Coconut, Apricot, & Crystallized Ginger Chocolate Bark

When you combine coconut, apricot, and ginger, you get a pleasant flavor that is fruity and zingy!

Ingredients

1 cup food-grade cocoa butter
1 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
¾ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) bean extract
Pinch of sea salt
¼ cup dried apricots, sliced
¼ cup crystalized ginger (Zingiber officinale)
2 tablespoons coconut flakes

Directions
  • For this bark, I like to slice the dried apricots into thin ¼ inch pieces rather than chop them. I think that the look of the coconut flakes with the strips of orange apricot and sparkly ginger nuggets is so visually appealing. Depending on the size of the crystalized ginger pieces, you may want to chop them into smaller pieces, about ¼ inch. Measure out your apricot strips, ginger pieces, and coconut flakes and set aside for topping your chocolate bark. 
  • Melt the cocoa butter down using a double boiler or a makeshift double boiler made with a saucepan and a glass bowl. The glass bowl should be able to rest with its bottom in the saucepan without touching the bottom of the pan. Fill the pan with just a couple of inches of water, place it on the burner, then rest the bowl in the pan. 
  • Place the cocoa butter in the bowl of your double boiler, and set the stove between low and medium heat. Stir occasionally as the cocoa butter melts. Once the cocoa butter is melted, turn the stovetop off, and allow it to cool for 5 minutes before you remove the bowl from the pan using oven mitts and set on a towel on the kitchen counter.
  • The next step is to emulsify the honey into the cocoa butter. Whenever you’re working to emulsify two ingredients, it is vital to have patience and go slowly. Slowly pour the honey into the cocoa butter with one hand while you whisk the two together in the bowl with the other hand. You could also use a stand mixer or hand mixer for this step, just use a low setting to avoid splashing and overly cooling the mixture. 
  • Whisk in the vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt. Then, add in the cocoa powder bit by bit and stir until the ingredients are fully combined. Pour the chocolate bark base out onto the wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Use a spatula to spread and even out the surface if needed.
  • Place the strips of apricot on top of the chocolate, then add the pieces of crystallized ginger, and finally sprinkle with the coconut flakes. Use your best judgment when adding your bark toppings, adding more or less based on your preferences. Allow the bark to cool completely overnight.

To Use: 

Once cooled, break the bark apart, package it up in cute little bags, label it, and place the bags in a cool dark place for storage.

Candied Orange, Pistachio, & Cardamom Chocolate Bark

Candied Orange, Pistachio, & Cardamom Chocolate Bark

Nothing says the holidays like orange and cardamom combined, making this chocolate bark taste savory and sweet with a crunch of pistachios.

Ingredients

1 cup food-grade cocoa butter
1 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
¾ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) bean extract
Pinch of sea salt
¼ cup pistachios, crushed
5-6 candied orange slices 
½ teaspoon cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) seed, powdered 

Directions
  • Prepare the toppings by cutting the slices of candied oranges into wedges following their natural section structure. This is more in keeping with the natural visual aesthetic of the orange. Place pistachios in a plastic bag and hit them lightly with a rolling pin or kitchen mallet to crush them. Set the toppings aside. 
  • Melt the cocoa butter down using a double boiler or a makeshift double boiler made with a saucepan and a glass bowl. The glass bowl should be able to rest with its bottom in the saucepan without touching the bottom of the pan. Fill the pan with just a couple of inches of water, place it on the burner, then rest the bowl in the pan. 
  • Place the cocoa butter and powdered cardamom in the bowl of your double boiler. Set the stove between low and medium heat, and stir occasionally as the cocoa butter melts. Once the cocoa butter is fully melted, allow the double boiler to cool for 5 minutes before you remove the bowl from the pan using oven mitts and set it on a towel on the kitchen counter.
  • The next step is to emulsify the honey into the cocoa butter. Whenever you’re working to emulsify two ingredients, it is vital to have patience and go slowly. Slowly pour the honey into the cocoa butter with one hand while you whisk the two together in the bowl with the other hand. You could also use a stand mixer or hand mixer for this step, just use a low setting to avoid splashing and overly cooling the mixture. 
  • Once you’ve emulsified the cocoa butter and honey, whisk in one teaspoon of vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt. Then, add the cocoa powder bit by bit and stir until the ingredients are fully combined. Pour the chocolate bark base out onto the wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Use a spatula to spread and even out the surface if needed.
  • Place the orange pieces on top of the chocolate, then sprinkle with crushed pistachios. Allow the bark to cool completely overnight in a cool place. 

To Use: 

Once cooled, break the bark apart, package it up in cute little bags, label it, and place the bags in a cool dark place for storage.

Mango, Chili, & Lime Chocolate Bark

Mango, Chili, and Lime Chocolate Bark

Looking for a new flavor twist for your next chocolate bark adventure? Mango slices, cayenne, and limes make this delicious treat taste tropical and spicy!

Ingredients

1 cup food-grade cocoa butter
1 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
¾ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) bean extract
Pinch of sea salt
1-2 limes
¼ cup dried mango slices
¼ teaspoon cayenne, powdered

Directions
  • Slice the dried mango into ¼ inch strips about two inches long and set aside. Get your limes and zester ready so you can zest the limes over the melty chocolate. 
  • Melt the cocoa butter using a double boiler. or a makeshift double boiler made with a saucepan and a glass bowl. The glass bowl should be able to rest with its bottom in the saucepan without touching the bottom of the pan. Fill the pan with just a couple of inches of water, place it on the burner, then rest the bowl in the pan. 
  • Place the cocoa butter and powdered cayenne in the bowl of your double boiler. Set the stove between low and medium heat, and stir occasionally as the cocoa butter melts. Once the cocoa butter is fully melted, allow the double boiler to cool for 5 minutes before you remove the bowl from the pan using oven mitts and set on a towel on the kitchen counter.
  • The next step is to emulsify the honey into the cocoa butter. Whenever you’re working to emulsify two ingredients, it is vital to have patience and go slowly. Slowly pour the honey into the cocoa butter with one hand while you whisk the two together in the bowl with the other hand. You could also use a stand mixer or hand mixer for this step, just use a low setting to avoid splashing and overly cooling the mixture. 
  • Whisk in vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt. Then, add the cocoa powder bit by bit and stir until the ingredients are fully combined. Pour the chocolate bark base out onto the wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Use a spatula to spread and even out the surface if needed.
  • Place the mango strips on the top of the chocolate. Then, zest the lime(s) over top of the bark. When zesting, remove only the green outer part of the rind, avoiding the bitter white pith. Allow the bark to cool completely overnight in a cool, dark place. 

To Use: 

Once cooled, break the bark apart, package it up in cute little bags, label it, and place the bags in a cool dark place for storage.

Pro Tips

It takes only a handful of ingredients to make your chocolate dreams a reality. The ingredients in these recipes are simple, and because of this, it’s worth it to invest in quality products. Rather than buying regular cocoa powder I always use a Dutch-processed cocoa for this recipe. Dutch-processed cocoa powder has a more rounded flavor and can be less bitter than non-Dutch cocoa powders. 

Food-grade cocoa butter was impossible to find in any of my local Midwest grocery stores, but I was able to find a good quality option here. When it comes to honey, raw local honey is the way to go, but if you can’t find honey produced near you, most grocery stores have a raw honey option available. I try to buy local, organic, and fair-trade ingredients when possible to support sustainable and ethical farming and trading practices.

It is important to prepare all your bark toppings prior to making the bark base, as you’ll want them ready at hand to top the chocolate bark right away while the surface is still melty. When you’re ready to place the toppings on the melted chocolate base, start with the larger toppings first, then work your way to the smaller-sized toppings.

basket of wrapped chocolate bark

Wrapping It Up

These homemade chocolate bark recipes are delectable treats you can make and keep on hand through the holiday season. With a few simple ingredients and minimal time, these gorgeous candies come together to delight. These are great for grabbing on your way out the door to see your hairdresser or for leaving in the mailbox for your postal worker. You can take this bark as a treat for your holiday party hosts or teachers at your kids’ school. Keeping these on hand makes it easy to spread cheer all season long!

5 Herbal Chocolate Bark Recipes for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | These homemade chocolate bark recipes are delectable treats you can make and keep on hand to give throughout the holiday season.