It came from the realm of fairies and leprechauns, where wizards cast spells and stretch rainbows to travel, where adorable animals speak in English accents and sparkles rain down from the sky. It came to brighten up our lives with its colorful, sugary goodness and remind us that fantasy can be a part of every day.…And the internet is calling it ‘Unicorn Bark’……
I discovered Unicorn Bark last weekend as I scrolled through Reddit.com and saw a post titled, ‘Unicorn Bark’.
First thought: This must be the next big internet joke…
Second thought: …Challenge Accepted!
The link opened to a picture of neon pink chocolate with bright purple strips across, covered in sprinkles. At the Chocolate House of Ann Arbor, we would dye white chocolate with edible colors to decorate our various truffles and theme candies for holidays – I immediately knew to make this magical internet sensation.
White chocolate isn’t actually chocolate; it doesn’t come from the cocoa bean or contain any chocolate solids (like cocoa powder). It’s a mixture of sugar, cocoa butter, milk fats and lechtin (a fatty substance that stabilizes the mixture). I can’t enjoy white chocolate anymore because of the milk fats, but I wanted to make Unicorn Bark to spread some joy. You can’t look at this chocolate or take a bite without smiling.
I started the bark by filling my glass brownie pans with steaming, hot water. Yes. I placed 3 bowls filled with white chocolate inside the pans. I stirred each bowl around as the chocolate melted from the hot water through the bowl. This method is to keep the different colors of white chocolate warm at the same time while building the bark. If I did the different colors of chocolate one at a time, the first layer of color would start to cool before I could swirl it into the next one.
When the bowls of chocolate were fully melted, I added the colors. The canisters of coloring were wide twist-off tops, so I poured the dye in, about the size of a nickel in each bowl. I used oil-based colors because I’ve always had better experiences with using oil-based colors rather than gel colors when working with chocolate. I’m not sure of the chemistry, but some gel colors don’t jive with white chocolate. I once tried using an orange gel-based color and the chocolate completely seized up like it had been burned (and I don’t burn chocolate). Be careful with the dyes though, they will smear and sink into your skin. I still have a blue fingernail from making this last night!
I laid a sheet of parchment paper over a rimmed cookie sheet. I cut the parchment bigger than the cookie sheet so that all of the chocolate would be safe inside the rim of the sheet, no chocolate touching the metal. I used my nails to crease the parchment to the edges of the sheet. Then I lifted each bowl from its hot tub and poured them all over the parchment. I used my tiny split-level spatula to smear the colors together. I scraped the spatula underneath the chocolate and flipped it up to pull the pink chocolate to the surface. You could use a butter knife to do the same thing. I wanted a purple bowl of chocolate as well, but I didn’t have enough white chocolate. As I was mixing the colors around, I discovered that by doing so, I was making purple streaks! Win!
After streaking the colors, the chocolate globbed together in different areas, so I shook the tray to even it out. This also brought air bubbles to the surface and I smacked the cookie sheet on the counter a few times to pop them.
When I was satisfied with my sugary rainbow, I created a storm of sprinkles over top. I used a ton of sprinkles – Stars, circles, hearts, even tye-dyed butterflies! Once I had the rainbow and sprinkle storm as I wanted it, I set the cookie sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes. When the chocolate was totally frozen, I pulled it from the freezer and beat it like it stole something from me!
That’s honestly my favorite park about making chocolate barks – breaking them! Literally smacking the chocolate around and breaking it into beautiful shards. It’s just plain fun.
All of my chocolate-smacking brought Olaf running into the kitchen, scanning the floor for any rogue shards. My cat has perfected the pitiful “I don’t get any?” look, as seen above. I thought that the contrast of his black and white fur next to the Lisa-Frank-eqsue bark would make a great shot.
I’ve been giving Unicorn Bark to friends and family today, and I love watching their reactions. Their eyes light up – dare I say, sparkle? – and a giddy grin creeps across their mouth. That look of, “I’m a grown-up, I shouldn’t be this excited, but I’m excited. I’m really fucking excited to eat this Unicorn Bark. This is going to be awesome!”
One of my friends was even having a bit of a crap day, but when I gave her the Unicorn Bark she perked right up and was ready to take the rest of the day on. Come on, can you really stay bummed out after eating a piece of Unicorn Bark? It’s a little way of fitting some fantasy into a normal day.
Spread the joy!
Recipe for Unicorn Bark:
1 1/2 lbs. White Chocolate, divided into thirds
Nickel-sized amount, Pink Wilton’s Oil-Based Candy Coloring
Nickel-sized amount, Orange Wilton’s Oil-Based Candy Coloring
Nickel-sized amount, Blue Wilton’s Oil-Based Candy Coloring
Shit ton of Fun Sprinkles, various kinds
Glass Baking Pan(s)
*These directions include my process of using the “hot tubs” for melting the white chocolate
Fill 3 bowls with white chocolate. Pout steaming hot water into glass baking pans and gently place bowls of white chocolate inside. Stir white chocolate inside the bowls until fully melted. When melted, add nickel-sized amount of one food coloring to each bowl. Mix in thoroughly.
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and crease to edges. Pour colors of chocolate onto parchment-lined cookie sheet and spread/mix with spatula. Shake tray back and forth to even out chocolate on sheet. Tap cookie sheet against counter/tabletop to pop air bubbles. Top with various sprinkles.
Freeze chocolate for 30 minutes. When chocolate is fully frozen, lift chocolate and smack against cookie sheet to break apart. Break into desired-sized pieces.