Chocolate covered orange peels are one of my strong childhood memories–a treat for adults, with adult tastes. The orange peel was soft and slightly bitter, coated in a sugar syrup and then in dark chocolate. Aromatic, sweet and bitter, with a soft peel and brittle chocolate coating–it was always a treat.
Now I care for an orange tree, and the pesticide-free, organic oranges have the most amazing fragrance when they are ready to be picked–floral and dense, not at all what an orange tastes like.
So when we eat oranges, we save the peel to make chocolate-striped peel. Here’s how it’s done:
Ingredients: sugar, clean water, orange peels, good quality dark chocolate (Belgian semi-sweet chocolate from Trader Joe’s works very well.)
Pick four large pesticide-free, organic oranges. Mine are navels. Wash and dry them. Score them from top to bottom (stem to blossom end) into four or six segments. Pull off the peel carefully. If it breaks, you can still use them. Eat the orange, this is about the peels. Cut the peels in long strips. Remove some of the white pith by using a sharp knife and cutting slowly, holding the knife flat and parallel to the cutting board. Do not remove all the pith—about half will do.
4 oranges will yield about 2 cups of loosely-packed peel.
Put 2 cups of clean water in a small saucepan–about 2 quart size. Bring to a boil. Put the orange peel in, wait for it to barely boil again. Pour out the water. Repeat for a total of three times. This removes the bitter flavor of the peel.
Drain the peel. While it’s draining, make the sugar syrup. Use twice as much sugar as water. For the 2 cups of peel, about 2/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water will make a good syrup amount. Pour the sugar and water into the same saucepan as before. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add in the cooked orange peel. Stir. Keep stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed. The sugar will form crystals on the bottom of the pan.
Immediately pour the peels onto a sheet of parchment or a large platter. Using a fork, pick apart the peels into individual pieces before the sugar coating hardens. The ideal peel will be soft and have a crunchy coating. If the sugar syrup remains sticky, you can slide it into a 200-degree oven for a half hour.
Melt about an ounce of chocolate (more or less to taste) by putting it in a microwave-safe container and heat it at high heat for 30 seconds. Stir to check for consistency. If it isn’t the consistency of sour cream, heat at another 10-second interval until it is. Using a small spoon pick up about half a spoon full and pour a stream over the orange peels. Using a fast back-and-forth motion, you’ll web the orange peels in chocolate. Let it dry and they are ready to eat.
–Quinn McDonald is a life- and creativity coach, writer and artist. She’s a wicked foodie, too.