Sunday, August 10, 2014

Shark Week Feeding Frenzy: Shark Bark!

Shark Bark Attack!

It's that time again... Shark Week is upon us and that means feeding frenzies! If you need a clever, simple, delicious treat for your Shark Week viewing party (or if you've got as many sweet teeth as a shark), check out the latest in specialty themed party food: SHARK BARK! 

Just like the typical peppermint bark, each of the four flavors of Shark Bark seen here is super simple and delicious. Since they all have essentially the same foundation, let's start with the basics.

White Chocolate Chips, Ahoy!

First thing's first: melted chocolate. The traditional way (some might say "right" way) of melting chocolate is to use chopped up blocks of chocolate in a double boiler. If you don't have a double boiler or the patience to use one, there is another, simpler method that yields the same results.

We're going to need a bigger bowl...

Simply add one cup of chocolate chips (semisweet, white, etc.) to a microwave safe bowl, and nuke at half power for 60 seconds. Take the bowl out, stir what should be semi-melted chips and return to the microwave. After one or two more half power, 30-second increments of nuking, your chips should be a beautiful, silky smooth consistency. At this point, you would add any canola oil and/or flavoring called for in the recipe. 

Time to Pan Out

Once your melted mixture is homogeneous, spread it onto a cookie sheet covered in wax paper. Be careful not to spread the chocolate too thin, lest the hardened bark melt almost instantaneously to the touch. After the melted chocolate base is down, add your topping of choice, pat down if necessary, and chill for 30 minutes to an hour before breaking into (shark) bite-size chunks.

A Shiver of Shark Barks

Ready to see some of the exciting ways to customize your very own Shark Bark? Check out the dangerously, delicious Shark Week themed varieties below!

Shark Bark #1: Great White Shark Bark

Shark Bark with Bite!

Great White Shark Bark
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 tsp canola oil
12 cinnamon imperials (red hots)
4 cinnamon hard candies

Great White Shark Bark has some major bite, especially if someone makes the mistake of thinking they're eating peppermint bark! The crushed cinnamon candy bits add just enough spice to be interesting, but the white chocolate evens out the heat to make it a pleasant treat for any palette.

Cinnamon Candy Crush

In the interest of science, we got several different kinds of cinnamon candy and crushed them individually to see which would look the best atop the Great White Shark Bark. Ultimately, we decided both kinds looked great and mixed them together for the topping.

Shark Bark #2: Mocha Mako Shark Bark

As if a shark needs caffeine!

Mocha Mako Shark Bark
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp canola oil
1/4 tsp coffee liqueur (optional)
1 tbsp ground coffee

Mocha Mako Shark Bark recipe is perhaps the simplest rendition of the recipe, but also one of the most delicious. Once the semisweet chocolate is melted, add a bit of canola oil and, if desired, coffee liqueur. Even without the additional flavoring, this mocha bark tastes just like chocolate covered espresso beans, and at a fraction of the price - yum!
Melted Chocolaty Goodness!

For both the semisweet and white variety, I am a big fan of the Guittard brand chocolate chips. I have sampled many different brands throughout all my forays into baking/candy creation, and Guittard is by far my favorite. They're even good for straight up munching!

Shark Bark #3: Blue Raspberry Shark Bark

Watch out, Titanic!

Blue Raspberry Shark Bark
1 cup white chocolate chips 
1 small box blue raspberry gelatin
5 blue raspberry hard candies, crushed

The Blue Raspberry Shark Bark recipe was by far the most novel variety I attempted, and it took a few tries to perfect. I first tried dissolving the blue raspberry gelatin in a small amount of boiling water and then combining that with the white chocolate, but it made for a playdough-esque consistency which none of the test kitchen (a.k.a. my brother and I) deemed appetizing. 

Instead, simply mix the gelatin powder straight into the melted white chocolate. Since the powder crystals don't dissolve, the structural integrity of the bark remains intact, and you get tiny bursts of blue raspberry flavor throughout! 

Hard Candy vs. Hammerhead

Once the blue raspberry white chocolate base is down, add some crushed blue hard candy to the top, and you are ready to go. One of the easiest ways to crush candy is to put the unwrapped candy inside a zipped plastic bag and use a rolling pin until the pieces are the size you want. Another valid method, as my brother pointed out, is to smash the candy directly with a hammer. To each their own!

Shark Bark #4: Marbled Tiger Shark Bark

Don't Lose your Marbles!

Marbled Tiger Shark Bark
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup cinnamon chips
1/4 tsp canola oil

For the Marbled Tiger Shark Bark, I used a marbled mix of both melted semisweet chocolate and cinnamon chips. 

Liquefied Cinnamon Rolls Incarnate

To get the fancy marbled look, all you have to do is pour several parallel lines of melted cinnamon chips onto a solid layer of melted chocolate. Then drag a butter knife through the lines perpendicularly. This will yield a neat, marbled pattern that in this case, also almost looks like an army of manta rays.

Defensive formation!

Shark Week Bonus: Gummy Feeding Frenzy!!

Fish are friends... or chum!

Since no gathering is complete without plenty of finger food, I could not resist getting a few gummy sharks and chopped up Swedish Fish to complete the Shark Week theme. The silver rocks are Jordan Almonds, and while pretty, they are nearly impossible to eat. The Swedish Fish should be so lucky...

Nom nom nom

Happy Shark Week, everybody! 

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