This Cranberry Orange Dark Chocolate Bark is gluten free and easy to make. With just four ingredients, it’s a super simple recipe perfect to give for Christmas or enjoy on your own anytime. The dried cranberry lends a bit of tartness while the orange flavor gives it a citrusy twist. Make it this weekend and see how quickly it comes together!
Recently I purchased a cranberry orange chocolate bar and it tasted so good – creamy and tangy, just a great piece of chocolate. While I always check ingredient labels, sometimes I miss when items are manufactured in a facility that also processes wheat. Which this chocolate bar was. Thankfully this isn’t a big issue for me as I choose not to eat gluten as opposed to others who are incredibly sensitive to it. And I thought what a shame it was that others with that sensitivity couldn’t enjoy this. Then I thought “I could totally make this”. And I was right! Introducing this cranberry orange dark chocolate bark.
For this recipe, you have to start with a chocolate that is completely wheat free. I know, kind of obvious, but I figure still worth stating. There are several brands out there – for this recipe I used this chocolate, which happens to also be dairy free. I found this bark works best with darker chocolate, around 70%. This of course assumes that you like dark chocolate. If you’re not a huge dark chocolate fan, feel free to use a lighter, milk chocolate. The recipe will taste richer, but still good.
I bought several bars and then had to weigh out to make sure I had one pound. You can use more, just add a little extra of the orange flavoring.
Get a sheet pan and place a piece of parchment paper over it. You’ll want the parchment to be a little longer than the pan itself to make sure the chocolate doesn’t leak into the pan and to easily lift the bark once it’s done hardening.
Next fill a medium sized pot with about an inch of water and set it on the stove over medium heat to warm up. You don’t want it to boil, but you will want it to almost boiling.
Once the chocolate is in small pieces, place it in a heat safe bowl, then place the bowl over the pot with the almost-boiling water. This is essentially a homemade double boiler. Use a spatula to stir the chocolate as it melts. You’ll need to stir it pretty much continuously to make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn.
Once the chocolate is all melted, stir in the orange flavoring. It’s best to use an orange oil in this recipe, but you can also use orange extract. Oil will mix better into the chocolate while the extract might cause the chocolate to seize (clump up and get lumpy) if you don’t add it in slowly and constantly stir it. While making this recipe, the chocolate started to seize up a bit on me, but I found that by stirring it up I could mix things back together.
After you’ve mixed in the orange flavoring, pour the chocolate onto the parchment paper in the sheet pan, being careful not to let any slip off the paper onto the pan itself.
Spread the chocolate as evenly as you can in the pan using a spatula. It should end up being close to a quarter-inch thick, but if it’s slightly thicker or thinner that’s still fine.
Once you’ve spread it out as much as you can, shake the pan a little back and forth to let the chocolate settle and get out any little lines left from the spatula. Then comes the fun part – putting the fixings on top!
After the cranberries are measured out, just pour them into your hand and drop them evenly onto the chocolate. You won’t want to drop them from too high up, otherwise they might splatter the chocolate when they fall. But you do want them to nestle into the chocolate a bit.
Once you’re finished with the cranberries, take our your microplane and zest whichever citrus fruit you’re using. I used the zest of one clementine for one pan of bark, but you could also use zest from a satsuma or orange – whatever you have on hand. If you find the zest isn’t falling onto the chocolate when you’re grating the peel, try tapping the microplane with the fruit or your hand. Sometimes the zest sticks together and just needs a little extra effort to fall into place.
As your grating, be sure and only zest the orange part, not the pith (the white part). That can be bitter and would not taste good in your chocolate bark.The zest gives it just a slight boost of flavoring and makes it look pretty. And we eat with our eyes so don’t underestimate pretty.
Once you’re done with the orange zest, place the pan in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes. You want it in there long enough for everything to harden, but you don’t want it in there for so long that it gets freezer burn. I wouldn’t leave it longer than 30 minutes, just to be safe.
After the bark is fully hardened, take it out and crack it into however big or small pieces you like. I typically put it in a bag or container and keep it in the fridge, otherwise the chocolate gets melty and it doesn’t have a good crisp snap when you eat it.
This recipe is great for gifting or for a crowd. Just pile it in a little bag and tie it with ribbon for a gift or pile prettily on a plate to bring to a party.
Still in need of some dessert ideas? Try these on for size:
- Crustless Banana Cream Pie Cups (one of my most popular recipes!)
- Gluten Free Blueberry Peach Crisp
- Raspberry Peach Nice Cream
- Gluten Free Poppyseed Pound Cake
- No Fail Peanut Brittle
- White Chocolate Candied Lemon Slices
If you try this Cranberry Orange Dark Chocolate Bark recipe (or any other recipe) then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how it went in the comments below. Seriously, I love hearing from you!
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Recipe for Cranberry Orange Dark Chocolate Bark
Cranberry Orange Dark Chocolate Bark
- One pound gluten free dark chocolate
- One teaspoon orange flavoring extract or oil
- 2/3 cup dried cranberries
- Zest from one clementine or orange or satsuma
- A Sheet Pan
- Parchment Paper
- One medium pot
- One medium heat-safe bowl
- A spatula
- A pot holder or oven mitt
- A measuring spoon
- Take a sheet pan out and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the sheet pan, leaving enough extra to hang over the sides of the pan.
- Place about an inch of water in a medium pot on the stove and turn heat to medium. Heat until water is nearly boiling, but not quite.
- Break chocolate into small pieces (if not using chocolate chips) and place in heat-safe medium-sized bowl.
- Place bowl over pot to create a double boiler. You can also place bowl in the water, just make sure no water splashes into the chocolate.
- With a spatula, stir the chocolate as it melts, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl so no chocolate burns.
- As the chocolate is melting, measure the orange flavoring with a measuring spoon and pour it into the bowl slowly, stirring continuously. If chocolate starts to seize or get grainy, keep stirring to incorporate.
- Once the flavoring is blended into the chocolate, take the bowl out of the pot using a potholder or oven mitt and scrape the chocolate onto the parchment paper using the spatula.
- Spread the chocolate into an even layer about one-quarter inch thick. To remove any lines from spreading, gently shake the pan back and forth to settle the chocolate.
- Take the cranberries and sprinkle them onto the chocolate in an even layer.
- Using the microplane, grate the zest of a clementine (or orange or satsuma, whatever you have) and sprinkle the zest onto the chocolate. It can help to zest a bit, then tap the fruit on the microplane to get the zest to fall off as it tends to stick together a bit. Make sure not to scrape the pith (or white part) of the peel, as that will be bitter.
- Once you’re finished zesting, place the pan in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes to harden. Once it’s hard to the touch, it can be broken up and placed in a bag or container to keep in the fridge.
*Melting chocolate can be tricky. It needs to be stirred nearly continuously and kept an eye on.
*Be careful if you’re using orange extract. Adding liquid to chocolate can sometimes cause it to seize and get grainy or clump together. Your best bet is to use an extract with oil in it – or just orange oil. That tends to incorporate better.
*This recipe is very versatile and can be adjusted to suit your tastes. You can use more or less cranberries, or add in extras like chopped nuts, coconut, or salt.
*Don’t keep your bark in the freezer for too long! It will start to get freezer burn on the top if you do. I wouldn’t go longer than 30 or so minutes, just to be on the safe side.