What Is Almond Bark?

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If you walk thorough literally any store, you’re well aware that the holiday season is right around the corner, and while I’m in no hurry to skip over autumn, I do want to prepare you for the hustle and bustle with a quick but impressive cookie-swap-classic: almond bark.

Asking “What is almond bark?” is a lot like asking “What are chips?” You might get very different answers depending on who you’re asking. 

In the same way that someone who speaks the Queen’s English would have a very different definition of chips than someone from my side of the pond, the concept of almond bark is context-dependent. Sometimes, it’s an ingredient. But sometimes, it can refer to a finished confection.

Mixing up the two could put you in an awkward situation at a potluck. And you definitely don’t want to fumble a grocery run by picking up the wrong thing at the supermarket.

So with holiday baking season (and all its frantic last-minute dashes to the grocery store for ingredients) right around the corner, it’s the perfect time  to clear the air on this sugary enigma once and for all.

Let me arm you with all the almond bark knowledge you’ll ever need…and then some.

Does Almond Bark Have Almonds In It?

If you need to figure out which almond bark someone is referring to, your first line of defense should be asking whether it has actual almonds in it. 

You see, the ingredient almond bark doesn’t actually have almonds in it at all. It’s a chocolate-like substance, typically in bar form with indentations so you can break off uniform chunks easily (like a Hershey’s bar). 

You’ll find this in the baking aisle by the chocolate chips and white chocolate. Also called candy coating, it usually comes in two flavors: chocolate bark, and vanilla bark.

On the other hand, the confection almond bark most definitely has roasted almonds in it – whole almonds or almond pieces. It’s a chocolate-based slab candy similar to peppermint bark or fudge. 

Usually, it makes appearances around the holidays; it’s a quick and easy addition to cookie trays and candy tins. But its flavors aren’t super specific to one season, so it wouldn’t feel blasphemous to eat it other times of the year (looking at you, pumpkin spice and gingerbread.)

You’d have a hard time finding this kind of almond bark at a non-specialty grocery store. If you did, it would be with the gourmet candy. I don’t recommend getting it store-bought, though. It’s pretty easy to make your own, and it’s definitely less expensive.  

broken almond bark bars in white and chocolate arranged on a white table top.

Why Is It Called Almond Bark?

There isn’t much to the story behind how almond bark the confection got its name. It has roasted almonds in it. It kind of looks like tree bark….boom. Almond bark. 

The backstory of the ingredient almond bark is kind of an interesting one, though. As we already established, there are no actual almonds in this kind of almond bark, but this confectionery essential isn’t named after its components. It’s named after its purpose.

You see, almond bark was originally used to make candy-dipped almonds. Coating almonds with real chocolate is rife with challenges, especially on a larger scale. So much can go wrong during the melting and setting process, and it’s not exactly easy to color chocolate consistently, especially white chocolate.

Almond bark was created as the answer to this sweet dilemma. It melts easily, sets quickly, and takes added flavor and food coloring like a charm. 

What is Almond Bark Made Of?

At this point, you know a couple of fun facts about almond bark, the ingredient:

  1. It’s not made from almonds.
  2. It looks and behaves like chocolate, but it’s not chocolate. 

Now that we’ve talked about all the things it *isn’t* made of, let’s go over what almond bark actually *is* made of. 

It’s a pretty short list: sugar, vegetable fats, flavoring, and coloring. Think of it kind of like the margarine  to chocolate’s butter. Sure, it’s not quite as rich as the real thing, but it’s still good enough as a stand-in. And boy, is it easier to work with. 

Almond bark, the confection, also has a short list of ingredients: almonds, dark chocolate, and butter/coconut oil. That’s it! Some people like to get a little more creative with theirs and throw in other goodies (dried fruit, cereal, marshmallows, etc.) but that’s totally optional. It’s still plenty good when the almonds are the star.

broken almond bark bars of white chocolate arranged on a neutral countertop

What is Almond Bark Used For?

I’ll focus on the ingredient almond bark in this section since the confection almond bark has a pretty obvious purpose: being a satisfying treat. 

The great thing about almond bark is its versatility. There’s no single use for it: it’s flexible, hearty, and ripe for holiday baking experiments – with no oven or stove required. 

Its star quality is that you can use almond bark in place of melted chocolate or white chocolate in any recipe as long as you’re okay with sacrificing some richness and flavor. I’m usually not making treats for chocolatiers, so I find it’s a tradeoff worth making just to save myself the headache of double boilers and heating-stirring-heating.

I also like almond bark for one of its underrated attributes: it’s much easier to add flavor to than chocolate. That means you can really go wild with the creative side of baking without much technical skill.

Mix some pistachio extract into melted vanilla almond bark, dip strawberries into it, and follow that with melted chocolate almond bark…you’ve got yourself some Spumoni Ice Cream strawberries.

Add some caramel flavoring to chocolate almond bark, and make chocolate turtle-covered pretzels. 

With the limitations of chocolate out of the way, the only limit is your imagination! 

broken almond bark bars of white chocolate arranged on a neutral countertop

What Is The Difference Between Almond Bark and Chocolate?

Chocolate is one of confection almond bark’s main ingredients, although you could go full almond bark-ception and use almond bark to make almond bark.

Regardless, though, I’m going to once again dedicate this section to the ingredient almond bark. And the following sections comparing almond bark to other baking/confection fixings, while I’m at it. 

Almond bark is made almost entirely of vegetable fats. It doesn’t contain any of the cocoa butters present in real chocolate, which is why it melts so easily. 

It’s a blessing, and a curse, though. Some almond bark is made with real cocoa and milk, making it a pretty convincing dupe for the flavor of chocolate. However, it doesn’t have the same luscious, velvety mouthfeel, and that all comes back to its lack of cocoa butter.

Almond Bark vs. White Chocolate

Almond bark differs from white chocolate in the same way it differs from standard chocolate: its fat source. 

White chocolate isn’t technically chocolate because it doesn’t contain cocoa solids. Instead, it gets its flavor from extra milk and vanilla flavoring. It looks really similar to vanilla almond bark, and on paper, it doesn’t seem all that different. 

The clincher here is the vegetable fats in almond bark vs. the cocoa butter in white chocolate.

Cocoa butter needs to be tempered when you’re melting any chocolate (white or standard), meaning it needs to be re-emulsified into the mixture by stirring. Otherwise, it separates and rises to the top. 

The vegetable fats in almond bark are a lot less finicky. They have a much lower melting point and don’t separate, giving you a lot more flexibility and keeping your stirring hand free. 

Just like its chocolatey counterpart, white chocolate’s weakness is also its superpower, though. Vanilla almond bark can’t touch white chocolate in its flavor and richness, thanks in full to cocoa butter. 

broken almond bark bars of chocolate arranged on a neutral countertop

Is Almond Bark The Same As Candy Wafers?

Candy wafers, candy melts, melting wafers, melting chocolates….whatever you call the little bagged disks of meltable candy coating they sell in craft stores, you might be wondering what makes them different from almond bark.

I’m here to save you an extra stop on your baking supply run: nothing, save for their coloring and flavoring. 

A quick look at the ingredient list of the leading brand of candy wafers reveals they’re no different from the brick of almond bark you can pick up at any supermarket. 

Keep in mind, also, that brick almond bark usually comes in 24 oz blocks. A bag of candy wafers is usually 12 oz and around $1 more. 

Of course, if you’re short on food coloring or don’t want to risk ruining your almond bark with too much flavoring, candy wafers may be worth making an extra stop for. In general, though, you’ll save time and money by using almond bark and, if you desire, coloring or flavoring it yourself.

Is Almond Bark Healthier Than Chocolate?

Almond bark (the ingredient) beats chocolate in a few departments, but healthiness isn’t one of them. 

Let’s start with the most drastic difference between the two: their source of fat. 

Cocoa butter and palm oil (the most common vegetable fat used in almond bark) have the same calorie count per serving; andboth are good sources of vitamin E.

What really gives cocoa butter a leg up over palm oil, however, is its effect on cholesterol. 

There’s evidence that palm oil raises bad cholesterol levels. Cocoa butter, on the other hand, is high in stearic acid, which the liver breaks down into oleic acid. Oleic acid is known to moderate cholesterol by reducing bad cholesterol levels and raising good cholesterol levels. 

Cocoa solids, which are more concentrated in chocolate, also have well-established antioxidant properties. So If you’re comparing milk chocolate and chocolate bark, milk chocolate is healthier by a small margin. In a matchup between dark chocolate and chocolate bark, dark chocolate wins by a landslide. 

Is Almond Bark Vegan?

If you’re talking about almond bark the ingredient, the answer is, usually, no.

I say usually because there’s been an explosion in vegan food in recent years, so I’m sure you could find a specialty brand that makes non-dairy candy coating if you looked hard enough. 

What you’d find in most grocery stores almost always contains milk, though. 

Now, if you mean almond bark the confection, I have good news for you. This type of almond bark makes an amazing, low-effort vegan treat! A lot of recipes call for butter and milk chocolate, but you can just as easily use coconut oil and vegan chocolate chips. 

broken almond bark bars of white chocolate arranged on a neutral countertop

What Does Almond Bark Taste Like?

If you’re curious about what meltable almond bark tastes like, realize you’ve probably already had it and just didn’t realize it at the time. 

Lots of store-bought chocolatey or chocolate-dipped treats don’t actually contain chocolate: cake pops, snack cakes, ice cream bars, chocolate chip cookies, and more. 

If you still can’t imagine it, think of chocolate or white chocolate with a brittle texture and not as much lingering flavor. 

Almond bark (the confection) is a satisfying medley of nutty and rich. The way the crunchiness of the roasted almonds complements the melt-in-your-mouth texture of chocolate makes it an addicting and delicious treat! 

How To Make Almond Bark

I would personally leave the making of the ingredient almond bark to the food scientists…but you don’t need to be a food scientist to make the confection almond bark!

Admittedly, there’s kind of a learning curve in melting the chocolate. Once you make it past that step, it’s smooth sailing. 

You’ll need:

  • a sheet pan
  • wax paper
  • your favorite chocolate chips
  • roasted almonds (whole or crushed)
  • butter or coconut oil

Before you start melting the chocolate, line your sheet pan with wax paper so it’s ready to go. 

Then, add about a 1/2 teaspoon of butter or coconut oil to the chocolate and melt it in a double boiler stovetop or in a pan for 15-30 seconds at a time in the microwave. If you decide to microwave it, make sure you stir between each 15-30-second increment. 

Fold the almonds into the melted chocolate, spread your mixture in a thin layer over the pan with wax paper, and pop it in the fridge. 

Once it’s set, break up the sheet of chocolate almond bark into manageable pieces, and enjoy. 

That’s it! You’re the hit of the next holiday cookie swap!

broken almond bark bars of chocolate arranged on a neutral countertop

Final Thoughts

“Almond bark” can either mean a finished goodie chock-full of almonds, or a chocolate/ white chocolate substitute sans almonds. 

Both kinds of almond bark have one important thing in common, though: they both inspire invention without a high barrier for entry.

Whether you’re a novice confectioner wanting to play Willy Wonka for an afternoon, or a baker whose imagination outpaces your patience level, almond bark (both kinds) could be your ace-in-the-hole. 

About Author

TiaGoodnight

Hey! I'm Tia, and I started this site to bring you the best information on all things kitchen so you can enjoy and elevate your everyday life.

I love trying new techniques and tools, living for the thrill of pulling off a new skill. On weekends you'll find me at the local farmer's markets or hosting friends and family for an evening of yard or card games and delicious food.

If you're looking for honest, real-world advice on all things kitchen and cooking, you're in the right place!

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