This is a step-by-step tutorial on How to Make Easy Chocolate Shards/Bark. These are rustic, jagged curls of chocolate used in a decorative way to adorn cakes and desserts. Make them using, dark, semi-sweet, milk or white chocolate. 

A cake decorated with chocolate

These chocolate shards came about when I was coming up with the recipe for my Irish Chocolate Cake with Baileys Buttercream Frosting (pictured above) and my Christmas Yule Log (pictured below).

A chocolate Yule log on a piece of wood

In the past, to achieve the effect of bark on the log, I simply used a fork to draw lines in the chocolate covering the log. A simple and very rudimentary method taught in any cooking class, but I was looking for something more realistic and theses shards add a dramatic 3-D effect. 

My friend Olivia from Liv for Cake,  decorated her Black Forest Cake with dark chocolate shards and also made stunning red and white ones emulating candy canes for her White Chocolate Candy Cane Cake (pictured below) very festive for Christmas!

Red and white chocolate decorate the sides of a cake

Tempering Chocolate for Shard/Bark

Though tempering is not required for this recipe, the choice to do so is up to you. Tempering creates a glossy finish but I prefer the matte look of the chocolate, so I do not temper. In addition, the chocolate breaks too cleanly when tempered and I want a more realistic jagged edge.

So, keep this in mind if you temper, which does makes the chocolate easier to handle (and prevents melting in your hand) but does stabilize the chocolate and help to make it glossy.

What is tempering chocolate?

Tempering is the slow heating of chocolate to the melted stage then cooling. This allows the fat molecules to crystallize evenly resulting in a a glossy finish.

A bowl of melted chocolate

Here are my tips on tempering chocolate:

Different chocolate needs to be heated to different temperatures.

Dark Chocolate Tempering Temperature

113°F/45°C. Cool to 80°F/27°C, reheat to 89°F/32°C.

Milk Chocolate Tempering Temperature

113°F/45°C. Cool to 79°F/26°C, reheat to 84°F/29°C.

White Chocolate Tempering Temperature

104°F/40°C. Cool to 77°F/25°C, reheat to 82°F/28°C.

How to easily temper chocolate

There are 3 ways you can temper chocolate, using a double boiler, direct heat in a pan or in a microwave. The best way is to use a Bain Marie (a metal or glass bowl sitting comfortably in a pan of water).

Monitoring the temperature is the most important key and should not go above 122°F/50°C or it can seize and scorch.

Start by using a heatproof bowl (metal or glass) over a small saucepan that fits comfortably in the pan. Fill the pan with enough water so it does not touch the bottom of the bowl.

Add 2/3 of the chocolate that has been cut into chunks, and bring the water in the pan to a light simmer, not boil. Stirring often. You want the chocolate to melt slowly. Monitor the temperature using a candy thermometer.

Once the chocolate has reached the proper temperature (see temperature guide above for different chocolate temperatures), remove the bowl from the heat and add the rest of the chocolate. Stir until melted and the temperature has reduced (refer to tempering chart above).

Return the bowl to the heat and heat until it reaches it final temperature (refer to tempering chart above. The chocolate is now ready to use.

Spreading melted chocolate with a spatula

Chocolate shards step by step

So, let’s get to the step-by-step instructions for these Easy Chocolate Shards/Bark. There is a video tutorial floating around the page so you can see me in action as I make them.

Spread the chocolate onto a large piece of parchment paper, thinly. The size will depend on how large you want the shards.

Roll the paper over the melted chocolate. Making sure that only paper touches the chocolate, no chocolate to chocolate or it will stick together and fail. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (it can be kept for 2 days this way). 

After the chocolate is set, unroll the paper (the chocolate will be stuck to the other side of the paper, this is normal). And break the shards in the sizes you need.

Stop untempered chocolate from melting

To prevent the chocolate from melting after you have unrolled and created your shards (if you haven’t tempered it), keep them refrigerated as you work and dip your hands in cold water to keep them cold.

Breaking up pieces of chocolate

Which chocolate is best for shards?

I like to use a non-baking chocolate. Just a regular bar of chocolate you would eat as they melt the best. And not chocolate chips don’t melt as well as they are made to hold their shape.

Yield: 4 ounces

Easy Chocolate Shards/Bark

A cream colored frosted cake adorned with chocolate shards on a cake stand

Melted chocolate is rolled in parchment paper, rolled and set.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 4 ounces (113 grams) dark, milk or white chocolate * see note


  1. Add the chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl in pieces. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until fully melted.
  2. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a flat surface. Spread a thin, even layer of chocolate over the paper. The shards will be as long as the chocolate spread is wide.
  3. Take the edge of paper closest to you and roll over the chocolate, making sure that no chocolate is touching.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, then unroll.


I find that regular chocolate (not baking) works best

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 120Total Fat 6gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 12mgSodium 73mgCarbohydrates 12gNet Carbohydrates 0gFiber 0gSugar 6gSugar Alcohols 0gProtein 5g

This nutrition calculation is provided by Nutronix that is only a guideline and not intended for any particular diet.