What’s your favorite treat to make for holiday parties? One of our favorites is definitely a chocolate bark. Mainly because we love chocolate, but also because we love the limitless mix-ins to add different flavors, textures and colors. Not only that, but it is the perfect make-ahead dessert.
So, when The Recipe Redux asked to revamp a classic holiday recipe to our own healthier version, we knew exactly what to do.
While this holiday bark by Ms. “Butter makes it better” Paula Deen is certainly festive, it is also full of unhealthy ingredients. Mostly notably, the red swirls have artificial color and flavor and made from crushed candy canes. The white chocolate is made from cocoa butter, milk and sugar, making it high in saturated fat.
While desserts are meant to be a special treat, why not make something that both tastes amazing and has some amazing health benefits? It’s a win-win. We also love how you can make a big batch of bark ahead of time. As long as it is stored in an air-tight container, it stays fresh and full of flavor for several weeks. I made this for multiple holiday parties this season, including an annual cookie exchange which helped decrease the stress of having to make multiple different desserts over a period of a week.
We love how simple this recipe is and how easy it is for kids to help out. Our bark is revamped with healthier ingredients, but tons of flavor. Bonus: the green and red ingredients are festive colors.
Dark Chocolate: We swapped the white chocolate for dark (70% cacao). Choose a chocolate that does not process the raw cacao beans with alkali, a process called “dutching” for the highest quality. Dark chocolate is lower in sugar and fat, but also higher in fiber, minerals and antioxidants. It is a good source of soluble fiber as well as as a source of iron, copper and magnesium. The flavanols it contains are antioxidants that both improve blood pressue and enhance blood flow to the brain.
Pistachios: Adding a healthy dose of crushed pistachios provides protein and fiber along with an excellent source of vitamin B6. Did you know they are lower in calories than most nuts but also very high in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which promote eye health? The polyphenols and tocopherols work to decrease inflammation in the body which helps to protest against heart disease and cancer. The particular type of fiber in pistachios has been shown to increase healthy gut bacteria to help improve digestion.
Dried (unsweetened) cranberries and cherries: Their pectin provides a good source of fiber. They are both excellent sources of antioxidants (the anthocyanins given them their red color). They’re also a natural source of melatonin which helps aid in a healthy sleep cycle. Don’t we all need better sleep during the hectic holiday season?!
This recipe was EASY, quick and so fun for the kids. The combination of the dark chocolate with crunchy pistachios and sweet/tart, chewy fruit along with a slight hint of sea salt was SO addictive. We hope you enjoy it year round and have fun trying different healthy mix-ins. We plan to make it with fresh pomegranate seeds in the fall for a festive Thanksgiving treat.
Healthier Holiday Bark
Full of healthy ingredients and indulgent flavors.
- 1 lb dark chocolate broken into smaller pieces
- 1 c pistachios roughly chopped into smaller pieces
- 1/2 c dried cherries unsweetened, roughly chopped into smaller pieces
- 1/2 c dried cranberries unsweetened, roughly chopped into smaller pieces
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Heat 1 inch water in pot to a gentle boil. place chocolate in heat safe bowl on top of pot.
Place chocolate in bowl and stir constantly over low heat until melted.
Pour melted chocolate onto baking sheet and use spatula to quickly smooth into an even layer.
Layer on nuts and fruit and gently press into the chocolate a little with a clean spatula.
Sprinkle seat salt over the top.
Place in freezer for 20-30 minutes until hardened.
Break into chunks and store in air tight container at room temp.
Check out other December recipes from The Recipe Redux here. Happy Holidays!