Chocolate Covered Orange Peels

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.

Orange ready to go, still in tree.

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.

Orange strips with some pith removed.

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.

Chocolate covered orange peels, ready to eat.

–Quinn McDonald is a life- and creativity coach, writer and artist. She’s a wicked foodie, too.

Temptation

Chocolate is irresistible for me. Dark bitter,  semi-sweet, even milk, which I find too sweet but won’t ignore. The only chocolate that’s not interesting at all is the bland, white oily stuff called “white chocolate.” Not really chocolate, it’s a novelty that contains no coco solids, no cocoa power or liquor. It does contain cocoa butter and milkfat. It’s also been “deodorized” to remove the distinctive bitter chocolate flavor. Huh. Maybe for tanning purposes, but I don’t do that anymore, either.

Journal page, Aug. 14, 2010

Quinn McDonald keeps a journal and leads workshops in journaling. Her book, Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art, will be out in late June, 2011, published by North Light Craft Books.

Target Chocolate Taste-Test

Chocolate is my Waterloo. I could make serious life-choice mistakes while under the influence of chocolate. So when my local Target began to carry dark chocolate flavored with amazingly exotic flavors, I grew weak in the knees and strong on directional instincts. My car knows the way to Target all by itself. All I have to do is wave an empty Lindt wrapper under its nose and it’s off.

Target has a house brand called Choxie. It offers a variety of flavors in light and dark. Being a dark-aholic, I tried the dark Key lime flavor. I also purchased a Lindt dark bar flavored with Orange bits, a dark with chili peppers, and a Frey dark chocolate with lemon and pepper. I really like the flavors of peppers, although I am not a fan of spice so strong that my mouth hurts.

chocolate comparisonThe Choxie Key Lime had an interesting filling–bright taste, which might be limey. Had I not had the bright green package to remind me it was lime, I might have simply thought “sour,” or maybe “lemon.” But the greatest disappointment on this bar is that the chocolate doesn’t taste like dark chocolate. It tastes like white chocolate, which is to say, not like chocolate at all. I remember in the 70s someone told me that carob tasted just like chocolate and was much better for you. I bought a carob bar and thought I’d bitten into the wrapper. Nope, it was the carob, which, to paraphrase Douglas Adams, tastes completely not unlike wet cardboard.

If you are a white chocolate aficionado, my apologies, but white chocolate has less chocolate flavor than the skin tanning coco butter, which it resembles in taste, if not smell. Coco butter tan cream smells more like chocolate. There are a few white chocolate producers who substitute solidified vegetable oil for coco butter in their white chocolate. Makes it easier to work with. Which sums up my interest in white chocolate.

Back to Choxie. For the price, not so bad, if you are not deeply into chocolate. Unfortunately for Choxie, it’s got no Moxie. Not for me.

Lindt is a Swiss chocolate maker for whom I have deep respect. Their dark chocolate is deep, rich, and avoids the pitfalls of many of the darkest chocolates–sour, sharp aftertastes. Their intense Orange is just that–it tastes intensely and unmistakably of real orange–the slightly bitter pulp and the rich, sweet juice. The bar is thin and the orange bits a bit crunchy. At less than $2 a bar, this is worth driving to Target for.

Lindt also makes a dark chocolate with Chili peppers. So far, it’s a clear favorite. The peppers make their presence known as a warm heat on the tongue and palate, balanced by the intensity of dark chocolate. It is absolutely perfectly balanced. Even the picture on the wrapper is wonderful, with a pure red chili pepper against dark chocolate–exactly what to expect.

Frey (the bar tells you to pronounce it “fray”) is another Swiss chocolate maker. I purchased their Lemon/Black pepper bar. How could a pepper love like me resist? I was hoping for a tang of tart lemon, followed by the floral spice of good pepper. It didn’t happen. The dark chocolate was fine, no complaints, but the lemon was simply sour and I still haven’t found any evidence of pepper.

I’m willing to give Frey another chance with another flavor, but so far Lindt is the quality winner. Guess I’ll just have to head over and pick another couple of bars.

–Image: Choxie Key Lime bar and Lindt Intense Orange photograph by Quinn McDonald, who is loving the idea of reviewing chocolate. As she buys wine by the graphic design of the label, she may be better off as the chocolate critic. She also teaches writing, journaling, and is a certified creativity coach. (c) 2008 All rights reserved.