This delicious Cherry Blossom Dark Chocolate Bark is filled with crunchy toasted almonds and chewy dried cherries, topped with dried cherry blossoms and flaked sea salt. It’s the perfect treat to welcome the warm weather and to celebrate a new spring season.
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In Japanese culture cherry blossoms symbolize the fragility of life, as they bloom only for two weeks. During that time, the castles, parks and streets that are lined with these trees look magical. It’s tradition to have a picnic to ‘view’ the trees (hanami) as a celebration of spring and appreciation for the fleeting nature of beauty. I love this tradition so I was so pleased to see that a row of cherry blossom trees had been planted along a pathway at a nearby park. There are over 400 different types of cherry blossom trees, the flowers varying in colour from white to light pink to bright pink to deep rose. Some grow cherries and some don’t. The ones planted near me are the white variety, which is the type I see most around the city. This spring was quite windy and rainy so the flowers disappeared especially quickly.
The two specialty ingredients that you will need for this recipe are salt preserved cherry blossoms and sakura flower crunch flakes The crunch flakes are not necessary but they give a little added texture and flavour to the bars. If there is a Japanese grocery store near you, you may be able to find these items seasonally, otherwise my favourite place to purchase them is here. They are high quality, reasonably priced and always arrive quickly and well packaged.
Since the preserved flowers are heavily salted it’s important to soak them for at least 15 minutes to get rid of excess salt. Gently press and pat dry before lightly heating them in the oven to completely dry.
Once your flowers are prepped it’s time for the chocolate! You can simply melt your favourite dark chocolate in the microwave or double boiler OR you can take a few more minutes to temper the chocolate. Tempered chocolate has an even shiny colour and a nice crisp snap when broken. If you’ve ever melted chocolate and noticed it has white marks on it after a few days, it’s because it wasn’t tempered properly! Another great thing about tempered chocolate is that it doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge, making it easy to transport and perfect for gifting. Tempering chocolate is actually very easy once you have the right tools. You will love the smooth look and snappy texture of the chocolate!
I highly recommend using a thermometer to temper chocolate, as the temperatures must be exact. My favourite thermometer is the Thermapen One. It’s a small digital thermometer that has become my go to for baking, candy making and tempering chocolate (it can also be used for deep frying and checking meat temperatures.) And I have to say that it’s worth every penny!
How To Temper Chocolate
- Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put 2/3 of it into a medium sized heat proof bowl.
- Fill a small pot with 2 inches of water and turn to low/medium. Place the bowl of chocolate on top of the pot, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. (Double boiler method)
- As the chocolate melts stir occasionally until it reaches 115°F. Do not let it exceed 120°F.
- Take if off the heat immediately, making sure the chocolate doesn’t come in contact with any water.
- Add the remaining 1/3 of chopped chocolate and stir vigorously and constantly until the temperature drops to 84°F. This can take about 15 minutes. You can speed up this process by placing the bowl in an ice bath, making sure no water comes in contact with the chocolate. Glass bowls will take longer to cool.
- Once the chocolate drops to 84°F put it back onto the pot of simmering water for 5-10 seconds at a time until it reaches 89°F, making sure it doesn’t go above 91°F. This is the working temperature of chocolate. It is now ready to use!
Why You Will Love This Dark Chocolate Bark
✓ The light and delicate cherry flavor and aroma of the blossoms
✓ Perfect for gifting or special occasions
✓ Sure to hit the spot of any chocolate cravings
✓ Easily adaptable (add your favorite nuts and dried fruits)
✓ An easy vegan and gluten free treat
✓ And cherry blossoms are just so pretty!
Looking For More Cherry Blossom Recipes?
Cherry blossoms are one of my all time favourite ingredients for their delicate flavour and for what they symbolize. I hope that you get to enjoy these Cherry Blossom Dark Chocolate Bars and welcome in a wonderful new spring season. Thanks for stopping by and happy eating always!
Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Dark Chocolate Bark
- 200 grams good quality dark chocolate (2 standard bars)
- 2 tablespoons toasted almonds, chopped
- 2 tablespoons dried cherries
- 10 salt preserved cherry blossoms
- few pinches cherry blossom crunch flakes
- good sprinkle flaked sea salt
prepare the cherry blossoms
- Preparing the cherry blossoms can be done 4-5 days ahead of time. Fill a small bowl with water and carefully add the cherry blossoms, gently separating any that are stuck together. Let them soak for 10-15 minutes to remove the excess salt.
- Before removing them from the water, gently shake the flowers from the stems to open any folded petals. Fan out the petals and place the flowers on a paper towel or clean dish towel. (The way the petals are laid out on the towel is how the flowers will look when they're dried.) Firmly pat dry until most of the moisture is gone and gently press to flatten. Keep any petals that have fallen off while soaking. Pat dry and lay them out with the flowers.
- Place the dried flowers and petals on a parchment lined baking sheet. Turn your oven on to the lowest heat (200°F). Place the pan into the oven but make sure to keep the oven door OPEN. Let them dry in the oven for 4 minutes then remove and flip the flowers. Place them back into the oven (keeping the oven door open) for another 3-4 minutes, until they are dried to the touch. Watch them carefully as they will start to brown on the edges if kept in the oven too long. Smaller/thinner flowers will dry a bit faster and may need to be removed earlier.
- Once the flowers are dried, let them cool on the pan. Once cooled transfer to a sealed container. They can be kept for 4-5 days.
- Break the chocolate up into small pieces and put into a medium sized bowl. Fill a small pot 1/3 with water and place on the stove. Turn the heat to low/medium and place the bowl of chocolate on top (double boiler method). Stir the chocolate occasionally as it melts. If you would like to temper the chocolate please follow the instructions in the post.
- As the chocolate is melting, chop the almonds and dried cherries. Set aside.
- Once the chocolate has melted remove from the heat and stir in the chopped almonds and dried cherries. Place your chocolate bar molds onto a cutting board or tray, as this will make it easier to transfer to the fridge. Pour the mixture into chocolate bar molds or if you don't have any you can pour it onto a parchment lined baking sheet and cut it into pieces when it dries.
- Let the chocolate sit for 4-5 minutes before adding the toppings (if added right away they tend to sink to the bottom). You can test this by placing a piece of flaked sea salt on top. If it sinks wait a bit longer. When ready place the dried cherry blossom flowers and petals onto the chocolate and sprinkle with the dried cherry blossom flakes and flaked sea salt. Carefully transfer the chocolate to the fridge to set.
- Once the chocolate has set, remove from the molds. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to two weeks. Enjoy!