It started with a deceptively innocent outing.
A close friend, Ina, and I decided to go for a hike in the Headlands, and stopped at a local grocery store for the sustenance we were certain we'd need, what with all the exercise we were planning on the white board in our minds. We bought some very small vegetarian hero sandwiches, some tabouli, hummus, pita shards, and a bunch of grapes. So far, so good.
And then we saw them. Colorful packages of Bark Thins swinging on hooks near the cash register, taunting us. There should be a law against that. They should be locked up behind thick glass with warnings posted in bright red with exclamation points.
They came in different flavor combos, but we latched onto the dark chocolate, pretzels, and sea salt. I don't remember a great deal about the physical aspects of the hike, nor the views even though the hike was up to a ridge above the Pacific Ocean within sight of the San Francisco skyline. But I remember that bark. The following day, Ina excitedly texted me that she'd found Bark Thins in a shop in Vacaville – which she promptly bought.
I decided I had to buy another package so Myles could try them, and ate a few so he wouldn't feel lonely eating them all by himself. Our addiction blossomed and we started to stock up. Soon we had to swear to each other that we would let the other one know if we ate the last piece, because one of us was counting on a piece after dinner one night and someone had finished off the bag earlier that afternoon and didn't see cause to mention it.
Ultimately I had to make them myself, just in case the store ran out, and I needed a backup supply. I have more flavor variations in mind to try – peanut butter swirls and pepitas come to mind, but I started with the combination where it all began. Sometimes, simple is best.
Chocolate and Pretzel Bark with Sea Salt
- 1 12- ounce package semisweet chocolate baking chips
- 1 12- ounce package milk chocolate baking chips
- 2 cups mini pretzels - or enough to cover the bottom of a 9" X 13" baking sheet
- Sea salt
- Line a 9" X 13" baking sheet or baking pan with parchment paper. Be sure to crease at the edges to fit the paper into the sheet/pan.
- Create a bain marie by filling a wide, deep skillet with water and heat up over medium-high heat. Pour all of the baking chips into a metal bowl and place the bowl on the water. Once the water comes to a simmer, turn the heat down a bit so that the water stays just on the edge of a simmer without fully engaging in active bubbling. As the chocolate begins to melt, remove the bowl occasionally to stir with a rubber spatula, returning it to the heat, until the chocolate is completely melted.
- Spread the mini pretzels on the parchment paper, breaking up half of them. Pour the chocolate over the top, gently spreading with a spatula. While the chocolate is warm, it will spread very easily with the spatula.
- Sprinkle a little sea salt over the top. I use Maldon flakes.
- Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set up the chocolate before breaking into shards.