December 10, 2014

Homemade Chocolate Bars for the Holiday Season

It seems like only yesterday I was roasting a Tofurkey for Canadian Thanksgiving, eating squash, and getting all knee deep in pumpkin and everything spiced. That time has passed, and I'm now onto bigger and better things like chocolate, eggnog, gingerbread houses, and Santa. amiright?

Last Saturday we went to Brent's holiday work party. The theme was Mad Men (yay!!!), which is perfect because I always wanted to attend a Mad Men themed party, and although I have very little desire to have lived during the 60's, I was very very excited to dress the part for a night. After searching many dayss for a period-themed dress, I found this $450 dress for $60 at the Goodwill down the street. I found a few additional pieces - some chunky pearls, a gold purse, styled my hair in a big up-do, and finished off the look with some red lipstick. I tried as hard as possible to be in full character, obvs. leading to me drinking way too much champagne. When the party was over, despite my state, I did manage to leave with coat and purse in tow, which in my opinion, the biggest success of the evening.

Most people who attended were in costume, which was a big relief because you really don't want to be that person who took the whole costume thing way too serious. The venue was at the Pacific Science Center, which was pretty convenient for those awkward moments when you run out of things to say to your husband's co-workers. There was food, and games, a few sciency shows (combustion, space, etc) but none quite as exciting as being in the butterfly conservatory - too many drinks into the night. Nothing says awesome like a few butterflies landing on your head, your depth perception and reflexes too slow to realize the shear panic you would be feeling by now if you were sober.

Throughout the night, 1960's-inspired food and snacks (meat sandwiches, pickled vegetables and oysters) were served, and besides the chocolate covered strawberries and personal snack size servings of Ruffles chips with sour cream and onion dip, the rest of the food should have been left back in the 60's. What they really should have done was recreated that avocado, salsa, and sour cream omelet, potatoes, toast, grapefruit juice brunch I ate the next morning

The next day was a total write-off. I managed to walk the short 3 block radius from my house, out for brunch, back to my house, and to the couch, where I spent the rest of the day watching Emily make these pretty red, green, and white tricolor Italian rainbow cookies. I was really impressed with her commitment and dedication to the art of Christmas baking. It got me thinking about this Christmas, and what sort of treats I want to make this year. Last year I made my first attempt at boozy fruit cake and candied orange sugar cookies. I wrapped up the leftover candied orange peel in cellophane wrap and handed them to family as gifts. It was such a success I wanted to do something similar this year.

I decided on making homemade fruit and nut chocolate bars, and some homemade Skor bars, and am going to try to not eat them all by the holidays, especially the Skor bars which are out-of-this-world. I went to the store and picked up some 45% milk chocolate, because lets be real, ima milk chocolate girl, but you could always use dark or white chocolate if you prefer. I have seen some people swirl the white chocolate into the dark and it looks really fancy. Something to impress your friends. I also picked up a selection of nuts and dried fruit from bulk bins, and a tub of fresh ground almond butter for later. I came up with a few combinations for chocolate bars that I wanted to try: raisin + almond, mango + macadamia + coconut, cranberry + pumpkin seed, and let me tell you, the raisin and almond did not disappoint. The hard part, now I have to decide who to give them to. I do know however that the Skor bars are mostly for Brent. And me. Mostly me, who am i kidding.

makes 6 bars

3 - 4 cups (24 oz) chocolate (milk or dark)
dried fruit (mango, cranberries, raisins)
nuts (macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds)
dried coconut flakes

cellophane wrap

To make a rectangular chocolate bar, you will need to use a small rectangular loaf pan as your mold, preferably 6 x 3 inches, or something similar in size - roughly the size of a large chocolate bar. Alternatively, you could use a large rectangular baking dish, and then cut into individual bars once the chocolate has hardened. The easiest method - pour the melted chocolate + nuts/fruit onto a large piece of parchment paper, and then break into pieces once hardened. 

For the purpose of this recipe, I will assume you are using a small loaf pan, and are making individual bars. 

Before you begin melting the chocolate, decide on some different nut and fruit combinations for your bars. I chose 1) raisins + almonds 2) mango + macadamia nuts + coconut 3) cranberries + pumpkin seeds + hazelnuts 4) hazelnuts. Chop the nuts and fruit, and set aside. 

Line the bottom of the loaf pan with parchment paper. If the parchment paper isn't sticking to the pan, place two small dabs of chocolate underneath to act as a glue. 

Fill a small saucepan with 1 inch of water. Heat on low. Place a bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure that it does not touch the water. Place a heaping 1/2 cup of chocolate into the bowl and stir until melted. Add half of the nuts/fruit you want to use for this bar, and stir. Pour the chocolate into the loaf pan, smooth out with a spoon, and then tap the pan on the counter a few times. Arrange the rest of the fruit/nuts on top of the bar. 

Place the pan into the freezer to chill the chocolate for 5 minutes. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to loosen the bar, or run a knife around the edges. Let the bars sit on the counter overnight. Wrap with cellophane wrap. Decorate with string, and place a label on top describing the ingredients. 

makes 1 - 9 x 9 inch pan

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp water
2 cups chocolate

cellophane wrap

Place the butter, sugar, salt, and water into a medium saucepan. On medium heat, bring to a boil. Continue to cook until the sugar has reached 300ºF, stirring constantly.

Pour the toffee into a square baking dish, and quickly tip from side to side spreading the toffee around. It will begin to harden immediately, so it is important to move fast. Place the pan in the freezer to continue hardening.

Fill a small saucepan with 1 inch of water. Heat on low. Place a bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure that it does not touch the water. Place the chocolate into the bowl and stir until melted. Pour the chocolate into the pan, on top of the toffee. Tip the pan back and forth to help evenly distribute the chocolate. Let harden in the freezer, or on the counter.

Once hardened, break into small pieces. Place into tiny cellophane bags, ties with string, and label. 


  1. That dress is stunning! I love the 60s and it over the top food. It sounds like you had a ball of night. Could I come over so I can eat these delicious creations? They look perfect as small gifts for any time of the year.
    Also I love your photography!The whites and lights are spot on!

  2. I think you've just convinced me that I needed to bite the bullet and finally watch Mad Men. I also need to start customizing my chocolate experience, ASAP. Happy holidays to you and B! <3

  3. Love, love, love these! What a perfect handmade holiday gift and stocking stuffer. Also glad you had fun at your husband's holiday party — sometimes office parties can just be the most awkward things, but this one sounded like a blast!

  4. Perfect I was just thinking about what foodie gifts I could make for my friends I think these might be it. Thanks

  5. Super score on the Mad Men(esque) dress... And these chocolate bars, what a fun idea!

  6. This is such a great idea for a simple, thoughtful gift! So good. :)

  7. oh my goodness, those look amazing! and I love your pictures!

  8. Making stuff at home like this is so fun. This bar is gorgeous!

  9. At a friend's wedding we all got a little packet with a monarch butterfly to release and when the time came to open it...ahhh they look so much more like muitple-legged insects up close! I freaked out and I think dropped my butterfly on the floor. Definitely wish I had had a few more drinks in me before I had to come face to face with the poor butterfly.

  10. Julia Bonnheim12 December, 2014

    There is a very good chance that that was my dress!! I bought the dress two years ago for holiday parties then donated it to goodwill like 2 weeks ago because it just didn't look right on me and I hadn't worn it since. Would be such a crazy coincidence if it was!

  11. i love making my own chocolate bars - love your suggestions for fruits/nuts.

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  13. Your dress and that party looked fabulous! So do these chocolate bars...what a perfect gift!

  14. Oh my! These bars are beautiful. I can't wait for the holidays to come around so that I can make them for my family. Now.... the question is, which bars do I make for which sibling. It's between these and the fifteen other candies I found for this blog: