salted kale bark

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A friend and I got the idea for this yesterday and knew that we’d have to test it immediately.  You’re probably familiar with peppermint bark, the candy cane-covered chocolate that’s pretty ubiquitous around holiday season these days.  Well, this is salty-sweet kale bark, or, as it has been unofficially dubbed, “bacon chocolate for hippies,” born on a snowy, cloudy drive through the winding roads of the western Massachusetts hilltowns.

This bark consists of kale chips crumbled onto melted chocolate with a hefty pinch of salt.  Pretty simple, and infinitely variable.  For our first attempt, we stuck with a simple salted kale chip, but anything goes, really.  Curried kale chips?  Flakes of coconut sprinkled over the melted chocolate as well?  The world is your oyster…. or your kale patch?  Whatever.

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We used curly kale, which I definitely recommend because it holds a light, crispy texture really well against the chocolate.  After several kale-size experiments, I can say it’s definitely best not to over-crumble your kale onto the chocolate because that compromises its texture.  We also tested out two different types of dark chocolate and found that we preferred the lighter of the two, with 65% cocoa, because it had a nice fruity flavor and didn’t overwhelm the kale as much as the 71% bar we tried.

This is pretty much a dream come true … kale vaulted into the dessert category.  It’s just as good as we hoped it would be.  Happy bark-making, hippies.

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Salted Kale Bark

First, make kale chips.  Wash and dry your kale, stem it and break it into smaller pieces, and coat it with olive oil.  It’s important to try to use as little oil as you can, because no one wants greasy kale on their chocolate.  We used half a tablespoon for about half a bunch of kale.  Don’t worry if some chips are more on the oily side, though, because you can always just eat those ones on their own.  Spread the kale out on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and bake in a 325 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until crispy.  Let the kale chips cool completely.

Melt your chocolate in a microwave or over a double boiler, and spread it out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.  You want the chocolate to be fairly thin so that it doesn’t overwhelm the kale flavor, but not so thin that it’s not a sturdy base.  Experiment.  Sprinkle the melted chocolate with salt and cover with kale chip pieces.  More kale is better; try to cover all the chocolate and don’t forget about the edges.  Harden in the refrigerator or other cold place (wintertime garages are excellent).  Cut the kale bark into pieces and store in the refrigerator.

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