This chocolate bark with cardamom, dried fruits, and nuts is an easy holiday dessert or gift made with dark or white chocolate, cardamom seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, apricots, or figs, and pistachios, with a shower of sea salt on top. Lovely to gift or keep.
Shards of broken bark put on the table with a bowl of tangerines, a plate of dates, some nuts to crack, or a few cookies make a winning dessert that can be put together with ease night after night if need be. A variety of spices, nuts, and fruits can go into chocolate bark—candied ginger, tangerine zest, diced prunes, apricots, toasted pecans and almonds, salted cashews, black pepper, anise seed, or cinnamon, to name but a few. We now know that a bit of salt makes all the sweet things—like chocolate and caramel and even fruit—dance! You don’t really need measurements, as you’ll see the first time you make this recipe. I use chocolate that’s in the 70% cacao range, but it needn’t be exactly that, of course. [Editor’s Note: The recipe below is for the dark chocolate bark with the option for a white chocolate variation that the author included with her original recipe and that’s pictured above, which works exceptionally well with pistachios, orange zest, and edible flower petals.]–Deborah Madison
When should I make chocolate bark?
Chocolate bark is adept at fancying up all manner of holidays for which it’s eminently appropriate. During December it’s an easy alternative to cookies for those averse to gluten or decorating or both; at Easter it serves as a sort of deconstructed, adults-only Easter bunny; and at Passover, it’s a lovely little something, especially when you drizzle or spread the melted chocolate atop matzoh rather than just a lined baking sheet to lend it not just symbolism but a welcome crunch. And if you’re asking in terms of how long it will keep, you can stash it in an airtight container and let it rest at room temperature for a few weeks, although we’re guessing it will disappear before you have to worry about it tasting stale.
Chocolate Bark with Cardamom, Dried Fruits, and Pistachios
- 4 ounces (more or less) dark chocolate (or substitute white chocolate) chopped into chunks
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds toasted in a dry skillet until fragrant
- 3 tablespoons raisins and/or dried apricots, cranberries, figs, or other fruit cut into small pieces
- 2 to 3 tablespoons salted green pistachios or other nuts some left whole, some cut into large pieces
- Maldon sea salt or other flaky salt
- Line a baking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper that measures about 10 by 8 inches.
- Place the chocolate and cardamom seeds in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. When the chocolate has melted, stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons of the dried fruit and 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the nuts.
- Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and immediately spread it into a thin layer on the prepared sheet. Scatter the remaining dried fruits and nuts over the warm chocolate, gently pressing them into the chocolate. Sprinkle lightly with the salt.
- Refrigerate the chocolate until it is completely set, at least an hour. To serve, break the bark into pieces and pile them on a small plate or dish. Store any extra bark in a covered container or a wax paper bag and refrigerate. It will keep well for a few weeks—in theory, anyways.
White Chocolate VariationSimply substitute white chocolate (sometimes labeled “white confection”), which works well with almost anything. One nice combination is pistachios, orange zest, and edible flower petals.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This chocolate bark is sophisticated and elegant—a surprise and a delight to the taste buds. I followed the recipe as written, using cardamom, dried apricots, and pistachios. I loved it and thought the combination was exquisite. The chewiness of the apricots, the crunch of the pistachios and cardamom, and the Maldon salt—wow, this treat has it all.
It’s sweet and salty and a little bitter with a touch of umami. The only change I’d make is to chop the cardamom seeds just a bit. One whole cardamom seed in the mouth is a bit overwhelming, and just a teaspoon of them leaves many bark pieces without a trace. This bark is very rich, so it only takes a couple of bites to satisfy.
Delicious flavors in a melt-in-your-mouth treat. I tried several suggested variations, as well as some not included in the recipe, like candied ginger, toasted pecans and almonds, orange zest, black pepper, golden raisins, and dried lavender. They were ALL awesome. We had company for the weekend and I doubled the recipe. All of the bark was eaten within a few hours.
Think of this more as an idea than a recipe. The possibilities are limitless. You could use different nuts or fruits, coconut, curry powder, chiles, ginger, pineapple, berries. You can substitute milk chocolate or even white chocolate, as the picture features—whatever you feel goes best with the other ingredients you are using.
I made the recipe exactly as written, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I melted the chocolate over a water bath on the stove, per the instructions, but in the future I’ll melt it in the microwave at 50% power. It works just as well, and is much faster. Next time, I might use a slightly milder chocolate. While the intense dark chocolate was a great match with the apricots, it overwhelmed the cardamom. A milder chocolate would allow the spice to shine.
My husband, who’s not a chocolate eater, liked this recipe and pointed out that even someone who isn’t crazy about chocolate might like it.
I followed this recipe as written, using the combination of cardamom, dried apricots, and salted pistachios. When the directions offered a range for the quantity of nuts, I went with the highest option of 3 tablespoons. I left half of them whole, and cut the other half into large pieces. When Madison suggested using a dark chocolate in the 70% range, I went for Trader Joe’s 72% chocolate bar imported from Belgium.
I made half as bark and the other half atop matzoh. My personal preference was for the straight chocolate bark. My taster, however, preferred the matzoh bark version, asking for seconds, and sneaking a third when he thought I wasn’t looking!
This flavor profile was both delicious, and surprising—especially the cardamom, which is not visible on the finished candy, and which is not an expected flavor for an American palate.
Originally published December 24, 2020
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
This was quick, easy, and quite tasty. I made the bark with dried cherries, cranberries, blueberries, and golden raisins (instead of the apricots), and used sliced almonds in place of the pistachios. I spread it over matzoh to try it out as a possible Passover treat. Yum!
I have to admit, I was worried that the whole cardamom seeds would be overpowering (and I love cardamom), but when it was all put together, the flavors were outstanding.