Sunday, August 28, 2016

Better Living through Pinterest: Unicorn Bark

I'd seen the Unicorn Bark here and there.  And bark, as a candy, seems like a good place to start--no intimidating molds.  Fueled by the chards of interesting chocolate needed to make a freak cake, I figured we should try it out....practice for some party down the road.  So we rounded up some supplies....

 (not pictured, pop rocks....they do add a little something)

Wilton Melts are fine and good, but let's be real:  they taste like shit.  Coating a cake ball or Oreo is fine, but on their own (e.g., bark) I figured it would be gross.  I've been itching to try coloring chocolate, and this seemed like a good excuse.  I had used the new Ghiradelli melts at the Circus Party (chocolate covered Oreos) and they were super easy (no tempering) and seemed to taste pretty good so we bought a ton of the white chocolate melts.  To color chocolate, you can't use water based food coloring (i.e., normal food coloring).  You'll need oil based food coloring, also known as candy coloring.  I haven't explored the science of this yet, but it seems that people use oil based coloring in hard candy as well (artisanal lollipops are on the docket).

After perusing Youtube and the internet, it was hard to find a definitive recommendation on the candy coloring.  So we tried oil based powder, and four kinds of liquid/gel oil based coloring:

I liked ChefMaster the best, followed by Wilton.  The intensity of both were good, but the Chef Master squeeze bottles are more convenient than pots.  The Lorann Oils were pretty good, but the liquid initially freaked me out looking separated (worked find) and the powder I found really difficult to fully incorporate in the melted chocolate (supposedly its great with fondant).  Note that Americolor gets rave reviews, but it was not Prime-able, so we have yet to grab some.

I reviewed these instructions (Studio DIY,  Hello Wonderful), this Youtube video, and the Martha Chocolate Bark instructions.  I agree with Martha--you'll want to do about a pound of chocolate per pan.  That gives you a nice thick bark.  For cake decorating (or freak shakes), it could/should be thinner.  And that is it.  Lots of clean-up, but a relatively easy and forgiving edible project.

Start with your parchment sheet over something firm (used a jelly roll pan/sheet pay with sides)

Batch #1 after marbelizing, before sprinkles.

Batch 1 results.

Last batch, with sprinkles and disco dust.

Last batch results.

A few tips:
  • I melted the white chocolate in separate bowls, ready for the different colors.  Watch over-heating the chocolate--they break easily (it will be almost melted, and then you pull it out again and it looks dry and crumbly in the middle).  For bark, I found that whipping really hard can bring back a partially broken batch to usability for bark (maybe not for a coating....).  
  • We went with a formula of white or pale base, with three medium or bright colors to swirl.  The same number of sprinkles (just so they didn't use ALL the sprinkles....).
  • This was a kid project, and sometimes kids are slower than the chocolate allows--if you put your oven on low (I used 200 degrees), you can put the pan of un-swirled chocolate in there to keep it soft....for those times someone wanted one more color to add or had not figured out their sprinkle game yet.
  • Online, people claimed they swirled it around with a spatula.  They must have mad spatula skills, as that looked terrible for me.  It blends the colors quite a bit, which is a slippery slope.  We used skewers to swirl and marbleize the chocolate.
  • Disco dust makes everything better

Even with Ghiradelli, I am not a huge fan of plain white chocolate on its own.  From a taste perspective, our middle batch was my favorite:  we put a layer of dark chocolate down, stuck it in the freezer, and then poured our Unicorn Bark on top.  You do have to watch pulling the dark chocolate up with your swirling.

Also note that we forgot about the purple and started marbleizing; because the dark chocolate had started to pull up already, Molly opted to splatter/drizzle it over the top.

Warning, it is super addictive...which is why we made three batches.  I think it would be fun for a party or party favor, or a class Valentine.

A word on sprinkles:  they add up quickly.  Making the perfect mix of sprinkles is key for unicorn bark, and the current trend for cupcakes and cakes, but it not easy if you don't have access to a professional pastry store.  But blogger Sweetapolita has recognized this problem, and sells an enormous number of "Medleys" on her store.  They seem expensive, but trust me when I say you'll spend more making the mix yourself (esp. if all you need is one party's worth of cupcakes or bark).



  1. This looks like fun. Nice holiday tradition without the tension of perfection that holiday cookies sometimes bring. We will try it!

  2. Thanks for trying our food colors :) The powder is a bit trickier to use in chocolate & wafers, but it does have the advantage of adding no water/liquid. We recommend starting with a small amount of melted chocolate/wafers and incorporating the powder in this small amount to form a deeply colored "marble" - then adding this colored "marble" to the rest of the melted candy.