Easy Chocolate Shards/Bark
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.