What is Chocolate Bark?

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  What is bark coating and where can I buy it? I'm trying to make chocolate-covered pretzels, which calls for chocolate bark coating to be melted in the microwave. Will chocolate morsels be as effective, and should I melt them in a microwave as opposed to a double boiler?

  Someone has sent you on a wild goose chase. In our more cynical moments, we believe that chocolate bark is the invention of candymakers who simply need a way to use up their scrap chocolate and still want to charge $9.95 a pound for it. Chocolate bark is, after all, just flat rectangles of chocolate. Clearly it had been melted, spread out on sheets to harden, and cut into rectangles. Often it also includes nuts or fruit (in which case it's $12.95 a pound).

For dipping pretzels, you obviously want neither nuts nor fruit in your chocolate. Clearly any sweetened, meltable chocolate will work fine for your project. You don't need chocolate bark. Chocolate chips or morsels melt more easily than blocks or bars of chocolate, but you can easily chop up bigger pieces with a good knife.

We always melt chocolate in a microwave oven. The one risk is that you might burn it. With a cup or two of chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, we heat it for 45 seconds to a minute, stir it, and, if it needs further melting, heat it in additional increments of 30 seconds until it is smooth. Let it go too far, however, and it will become grainy and useless, and smell and taste scorched.

Using a double boiler can be a safer option for melting chocolate, unless a bit of water from the bottom pan or from a lid mysteriously finds its way into the chocolate, which will cause the chocolate to seize up, also rendering it useless.