With a son who is now a junior in high school, our family’s days of trick-or-treating may be long behind us, but that doesn’t mean we have to miss out on the candy free-for-all. This Festive Halloween Bark combines your favorite Halloween candies into an easy, decorative and deliciously addictive holiday treat.

This candy bark is easy to make and incredibly versatile. While my version features semisweet chocolate studded with salty pumpkin seeds and topped with three classic candy bars — Butterfingers, Heath bars and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups — you can adapt it to your tastes by switching out the candy bars and substituting nuts or other seeds.

Use good Belgian semisweet chocolate as the base for this bark, which includes Butterfingers, Heath bars and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Pieces. You can mix and match the candies and swap out the pumpkin seeds for your favorite nut variety. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Use good Belgian semisweet chocolate as the base for this bark, which includes Butterfingers, Heath bars and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Pieces. You can mix and match the candies and swap out the pumpkin seeds for your favorite nut variety. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

I use a high-quality bar of chocolate for the base, like Callebaut, Ghirardelli, Guittard, Lindt or Baker’s. Chocolate of this quality yields a better result when melting than chips or wafers do, and they also have superior flavor.

I recommend using semisweet or bittersweet chocolate versus milk chocolate, as there is already plenty of sweetness from the candy bar mix.

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The key to melting chocolate is to make sure that it is melted just until warm, but not hot. Too much heat can cause the chocolate to overheat and form clumps, thus rendering it unusable.

If using a microwave to melt the chocolate, do so in intervals of 15 seconds on a medium or medium-low setting, stirring the chocolate after each interval until it is melted. You can also use a double boiler system to melt it on the stove over a pan of gently simmering water.

Use the partial-melt method to temper the chocolate, by melting 75% of it and then stirring in the rest, which helps provide stability once the chocolate sets. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Use the partial-melt method to temper the chocolate, by melting 75% of it and then stirring in the rest, which helps provide stability once the chocolate sets. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

I use the partial-melt method for melting chocolate, also called quick tempering, which helps it to stabilize so that it sets up better as it cools. I start by melting just three-quarters of the total amount of chocolate in the recipe using the microwave or double boiler.

Once fully melted, I set the dish on the counter and add the remaining chocolate, letting the heat of the warm chocolate melt it as I stir.

Next, I stir in the pumpkin seeds until combined, then spread the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. I sprinkle the top with a generous pinch of flaky sea salt to complement the slight bitterness of the chocolate and keep the bark from being too sweet.

Once all the chocolate is melted, stir in roasted and salted pumpkin seeds to give the bark a salty crunch. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Once all the chocolate is melted, stir in roasted and salted pumpkin seeds to give the bark a salty crunch. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

The goodness doesn’t stop there. A generous swirl of melted white chocolate goes on next, followed by a sprinkling of Reese’s Pieces, some googly eyes and Halloween sprinkles for a splash of flavor and colorful holiday spirit.

Once the bark is ready, it must be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes before carving into pieces for serving. The bark will keep for up to one week at room temperature, two weeks in the refrigerator and up to three months in the freezer.

The finished bark is refrigerated for 30 minutes until firm and then transferred to a cutting board for slicing. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
The finished bark is refrigerated for 30 minutes until firm and then transferred to a cutting board for slicing. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

This Festive Halloween Bark brings a terrific boost of color to any party platter and also makes a wonderful gift for the candy lovers in your life, especially those who no longer get to go trick-or-treating. But be warned — be sure to make extra, because this frightfully decadent treat will have them begging for more.

Sarah’s Festive Halloween Bark

PRINT: Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe

Makes: About 2 pounds of bark or 3 dozen 2-inch pieces

Ingredients:

1 pound good semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped (bars of chocolate melt better than chips)

¼ cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds

3 to 4 fun-size Butterfinger candy bars, roughly chopped

2 Heath bars (1.4-ounce each), roughly chopped

5 snack-size Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, cut into small wedges

2 ounces good white chocolate, roughly chopped

Generous pinch of flaky sea salt

Reese’s Pieces, festive sprinkles, a few extra pumpkin seeds and/or candy corn, to scatter on top

Directions:

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper; set aside.

In a medium heatproof bowl, melt ¾ of the semisweet chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of gently simmering water (low heat), just until melted and warm, but not hot. If using the microwave, melt in 15 second intervals on medium-low, stopping and stirring after each interval until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Once the chocolate is melted, stir in the remaining quarter of the chocolate until fully melted. Add pumpkin seeds and stir until fully incorporated. Pour the mixture onto the lined baking sheet and use an offset spatula or flat knife to spread into a rectangle about 12-by-10 inches and ¼-inch thick.

Scatter chopped candy bar pieces over the melted chocolate and use your hands to gently press them into the surface so that they adhere.

Melt white chocolate using the same process described for the semisweet chocolate. Remove from heat and use a spoon to drizzle across the candy mixture. Sprinkle the top with sea salt.

Decorate the top with a light sprinkling of Reese’s Pieces, festive sprinkles and/or candy corn. Refrigerate the bark until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Use a sharp knife to cut the bark into pieces of any size, as desired.

Sarah’s tips:

  • Feel free to use any mixture of your favorite Halloween candies to top the melted chocolate.
  • Reserving ¼ of the chocolate to stir into the melted chocolate is known as a quick tempering method that will help the chocolate to set better.
  • Store the bark pieces in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
  • Do not use your hands to break up the bark, as their warmth will melt the chocolate.

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.