Happy Christmas/Chocolat!

Merry Christmas, Happy Days!

Chocolate bark is popular this year according to my blog perusing as of late. I lived in France for one Christmas season, and this combination of chocolate accompaniments, discovered at a festive chocolate exposition, won my heart: Pistachio, Almond, and Candied Orange Peel. So this was one of my Christmas treats this year!

I melted dark chocolate (70% cacao) in a double boiler, spread it thinly in a pan lined with wax paper, then topped it with those delicious things (I used salted nuts, by the way)–I let it harden in the fridge, then cut it into squares. I also made a batch with milk chocolate. Such scrumptious and perfectly balanced bites of indulgent goodness!
This stuff is special.

Incredible Edible Gifts!

A little parcel of distinctive chocolate, my Cinnamon Marshmallows, and these excellently flavorful chewy molasses ginger cookies found on a blog called SavorySaltySweet made its way to some special friends!

Happy Happy Holidays, go make some love–edible or otherwise!

Candied Orange Peel

Remember those Orange Slice candies? Candied orange peels are a bit like those, but more orangey-wonderful. They’re a tasty addition to cakes, cookies, and candies. They are candy on their own, and Matt thinks they’d be nice as after dinner ‘mints’, a sort of fresh and cleansing digestif. I think they are a delight to make–so pretty and fragrant, plus the candying process yields a yummy by-product: lovely, citrus-scented orange syrup! One recipe that results in two delicious and functionally different products? Oui. Oui, oui, oui. Eat some juicy oranges, and don’t throw away those peels!

Candied Orange Peel
yields about 2 1/2 cups of candied peels

5 large thick-skinned oranges (like Navel or Valencia)
water for boiling
4 cups sugar
1 cup water
sugar for coating

Wash oranges thoroughly with warm water. With a knife, score the oranges, cutting through the peel and pith, but not the fruit. I made 5 cuts down the length of each fruit, yielding 6 slices of peel from each orange. With your fingers, slowly pull each slice of peel+pith from the orange. Once the peels are removed, slide a knife across the pith side to remove most of the white pith from the orange part of the peel (a bit of remaining pith is ok!).

Cut the peels down to your desired size, then put them in a pot and pour in enough water to cover the peels. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then remove the pot and drain the peels of water. Repeat this 1 or 2 times (this reduces bitterness). I did this boiling process 3 times. Next, stir the sugar into the 1 cup of water in the saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook 8-9 minutes, until a candy thermometer reaches 230-234 degrees F. Add peels and adjust heat to retain a simmer. Simmer peels about 45 minutes or until they become translucent. Swirl the pan to move the peels around instead of stirring them with a spoon. Drain the peels, and reserve the syrup*. Roll the peels in sugar, then lay them out on wax paper for a few hours to cool and dry. Store candied peels in an airtight container.

peels after cooking

sugar coating

*You can use that syrup as a fragrant sweetener for teas, cocktails, and sodas!

**And I’ll be back soon with a recipe idea using those orange peels. Hint: I learned this at a French chocolate fair!