The Hack For Smooth Chocolate Bark When You Don't Feel Like Tempering

When breaking down chocolate bark, tempering is usually essential, but it is a tedious part of the process. Nothing else will get you that smooth gloss and snappy hardness quite as reliably as properly setting the cocoa butter crystals into the right formation. However, tempering takes a lot of time and effort that you won't always have. And unless you're a professional chocolatier, you likely aren't looking for that kind of quality in your chocolate bark anyway. Fortunately, there's an easy shortcut for shiny bark that doesn't require such intense and delicate care: Just add a bit of vegetable shortening or coconut oil to your melted chocolate.

While these ingredients won't magically arrange the cocoa butter crystals, the oils smooth out the chocolate and add a glossy finish without needing a double boiler. They also help the chocolate set much faster, speeding up the process of forming the chocolate into a mold or back into a bark for storage. All you have to do is add one teaspoon per six ounces of chocolate during the melting process before shaping and setting it as usual.

Things to keep in mind

The catch for this easy alternative is that it's not really tempering, so you can't expect it to reharden with the same brittle texture. While it will definitely give the chocolate a smooth and glossy appearance, it won't return to the same stable structure as a tempered chocolate would. This is because the extra oils thin out the solids and make the final product softer than it would otherwise be. This is why most recipes that recommend this only suggest adding vegetable shortening or coconut oil for dipping chocolate.

If you're set on having nice and snappy chocolate bark, however, there are a few easy hacks for true, tempered chocolate. You can try Ina Garten's favorite shortcut by tempering the chocolate in the microwave. Alternatively, you can also use the seeding method of incorporating either small bits of tempered chocolate or cocoa butter — just make sure to grate it for perfectly tempered results.