My granddaughter, Jaina, and I make these every year at Christmastime, and we give them for gifts. I think she likes the idea of using orange peels that would normally go in the compost pile! They take a little fuss, but it is not difficult and require little in the way of ingredients. When we make this, we end up with oranges that you can quickly cut out the little sections or “supremes” for a tasty fruit salad – bonus leftovers!
Choose your chocolate
I’ve used dark chocolate here, 70% because that is what I like for these, and I think it blends well with the candied peels, If you have a sweeter tooth, use any % you like, remembering the lower the cocoa percentage, the higher the sugar content and thus the sweeter the chocolate will be, and milk chocolate actually does have dairy in it.
Always organic, you’re using the peel
This is one of those instances where you really need to buy organic. Citrus fruits in general harbor most of the pesticides used in growing in their peel, so if you plan on using the zest or whole peel, as here, of citrus, organic is really a must.
Let’s make this fun
The first time I made these, I drove myself crazy trying to cut the peels into uniform little strips. First of all, that was difficult enough, and secondly, I ended up with a lot of waste and not much in the way of actual strips! I love to fuss over gift foods for the holidays, but there is a limit, and in the end, the taste is what counts, and especially doing this with my granddaughter, it has to be fun!
A two- or three-for!
So I don’t worry about it so much. I end up with some pieces wider than others, close enough is perfect here. And my basic plan now is to use the narrower strips for a pretty dip with some of the orange showing, and I slice the wider ones into narrow strips to dunk the whole thing in. This gives me two pretty options for the treat tin, and the fact they are not uniform in size only adds to their charm. Actually, it’s a “three-for” since you can also reserve some to just dip in coarse sugar.
This makes quite a bit, but I usually double the recipe to keep everyone happy.
The best part? Every single person in the family and friends network love these, and they are gluten-free, nut-free (with the right chocolate of course, always check), vegan, low-fat, and pretty darn delicious!
Dark Chocolate Covered Orange Peels
- 3 or 4 thick-skinned, organic oranges
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 cups water
- 6 to 8 ounces 70% bittersweet chocolate chips
Using a sharp paring knife, slice thick pieces of the orange peel, bitter pith and all, and taking just a bit of the flesh. These will shrink a little in the blanching and simmering process.
Next, we trim the peels to even them up. They don’t all need to be the same size, but I like to even up ragged edges.
Fill a pan halfway with water and add the orange slices. Bring to a boil and cook for a minute or so. Drain, rinse under cold water, and rinse out the pan. Repeat this process two more times! Like I said, it is a bit tedious, but not hard, and this step is necessary to remove some of the bitterness.
In a second pan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer until the sugar all dissolves.
After the last blanch, place the orange peels in the syrup pan and simmer for an hour and a half. You can do this in a low oven, 250 degrees.
Remove the peels from the syrup and place on a wire rack to dry overnight making sure they do not touch each other. In the morning, they will still be tacky.
Chocolate covered slices:
Melt 6 to 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler or microwave oven. Dip the dried peels in the chocolate about two-thirds of the way, shake off any long drips, and set on the parchment or waxed paper to dry.
Fully covered chocolate strips:
Submerge the whole thing, fish out with a fork, shake the excess chocolate off, and set on the waxed paper to dry.
Crystalized orange slices:
After the night of rest, just roll the slices in coarse sugar, coating both sides. Let dry completely.
You will probably have chocolate left over. Dip dried apricots, pretzels, or fresh fruit slices to use it up, and let dry in the same manner.
I’m not sure how long any of these will keep since they go pretty fast!
Real Christmas Snow – A great weekend to stay indoors and cook!
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