And you can tweak by switching up the toppings however you'd like.

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Credit: Courtesy of Ashley Lima

Craving something sweet, but no energy to turn on the oven and do a trillion dishes? Since you've likely been cooking and baking up a storm during quarantine, this three-ingredient chocolate bark is the perfect next project — there's only a touch of cooking required (in the microwave, no less) and it'll satisfy your sweet craving in a healthier way.

This Sweet and Salty Chocolate Bark is from my new cookbook The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook: 100 Fast & Easy Recipes for Everyone (Buy It, $25, amazon.com). Yes, you really can make that many different recipes and meals with just three ingredients — and there's actually an entire chapter dedicated to sweet treats (just like these 3-Ingredient Almond Oat Energy Bites).

In this recipe, each of the three ingredients serves a purpose and provides good-for-you nutrients:

  • Dark chocolate: An ounce of milk or dark chocolate provides about 150 calories and 9 grams of fat. To get more health benefits, choose at least 60 percent dark chocolate. You'll get more of the health benefits from the cocoa beans, which contain small amounts of various nutrients including vitamins A, E, and B, calcium, iron, and potassium. Cocoa also provides numerous antioxidants including theobromine, which can help reduce inflammation and help lower blood pressure.
  • Pretzel sticks: Since the peanuts are unsalted, using salted pretzel sticks balances the sweet and salty flavor. To make sure a little crunchy-salty goodness gets into every bite, opt for thin pretzel sticks. Then place them in a re-sealable plastic bag and break them into smaller pieces using the back of your hand or a mixing bowl. (Bonus: It's a great way to release a little frustration or stress.)
  • Unsalted peanuts: One ounce (about 39 pieces) of dry roasted peanuts contains 170 calories, 14 grams of fat (mostly unsaturated), grams 7 grams of protein, and is a good source of fiber. Fat and protein take longer to digest and fiber helps slow down absorption, which means that the peanuts in this tasty treat can help you stay satisfied for longer. Peanuts are also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, and energy-releasing B-vitamins niacin and folate. Further, peanuts also contain minerals like magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. (All this makes peanuts one of the healthiest nuts and seeds you can eat.)

Chocolate Bark Variations

This chocolate bark is the perfect treat instead of more intensive recipes or store-bought candy. Plus, it makes a great seasonal gift; pop some bark into a glass jar or plastic bag with an orange tie and drop them off with friends and family.

While the recipe below for Sweet and Salty Chocolate Bark works for any season, you can also tweak the toppings so the colors fit any holiday. For example, you can use pomegranate arils and pistachios for the winter holidays, or strawberries and white chocolate or coconut shavings for Valentine's Day. For Halloween, you can top your bark with orange and yellow Reese's Pieces and candy corn, use white chocolate instead of dark and top it with orange and black sandwich cookies (broken into pieces), or for a healthier version (that still has Halloween colors), top with chopped dried mango and chopped pistachios.

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Bark Recipe

Serving size: 2 pieces (size can vary)

Makes: 8 servings/16 pieces

Ingredients

  • 8 oz (250 g) of at least 60 percent bittersweet (dark) chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 2 cups (500 mL) thin pretzel sticks, broken into pieces
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave on high for about 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 20 to 30 seconds until smooth.
  3. Stir the pretzel sticks into the melted chocolate.
  4. Spoon the chocolate mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Use a spatula to evenly spread the mixture to about 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) thick. Sprinkle with the peanuts.
  5. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to set, at least 30 minutes. Break into pieces and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Copyright Toby Amidor, The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook: 100 Fast & Easy Recipes for Everyone. Robert Rose Books, October 2020. Photo courtesy of Ashley Lima. All Rights Reserved.