December 12, 2009

Christmas Baking: Chocolate Dipped Orange Peel

A couple of weeks ago I tried my hand at candied orange peel and ever since, the three big mason jars of sparkly peel has been glaring at me every time I take out a platter or jar of jam from my basement pantry. "Why aren't you eating us? You know you want to!" they scream. And of course, I do want to eat them. They are a perfect blend of sour peel and crunchy sugar, sweet but not overwhelming. But I've resisted (for the most part) I wanted to save them for dipping in chocolate.

I talked before about the Christmas my family spent in London when I was a tween. Although I'm sure my parents version of that trip bares little resemblance to my memories of a charming, Dickensonian (in a good way) city, dusted with snow and filled with the wonders of Harrods Food Hall and Fortnum and Mason's colorful displays, I know that we all came away with an abiding love of Terry's Chocolate Oranges.

Back then you couldn't find a Terry's Orange in the states for love or money and so we were all mezmorized by the foil covered confection. My brother, who would have been about five at the time, thought it was great fun to get to bang your candy on the table as hard as possible. Smashing thing with the full permission of your parents is probably every five year old boys dream. But the real wonder lay in the magic combination of chocolate and orange. Who knew such a fabulous thing existed?

Now a days you can find Terry's Oranges in every Christmas Candy section from Safeway to CVS.I still look forward to finding one in my stocking every Chrismas morning, but I also love to try other versions of that same magical combination. Last year it was Nigella Lawson's Clementine Cake topped with Chocolate Ganache (which I made again last week, you cant go wrong with it!) and this year it will be chocolate dipped candied orange peel. A few go a long way so starting with those 4-5 large oranges and taking into account a few snacks and bloopers, you should have enough dipped peel for about 15 little baggies of treats.

Melt your chocolate (I like the dark chocolate made for dipping available in craft stores) in a double boiler, stirring as you go and removing from heat (but leaving over the hot water) once you have a smooth consistency.

Dip each piece of peel about half way in the chocolate, checking the sides to make sure the coverage is pretty even. Shake or tap off the excess chocolate and set on waxed paper to dry. Depending on how warm your house is that could take anywhere from five minutes to 15, I let mine set for about half an hour before bagging just to be sure they chocolate was nice and hard.

Because they will keep, dipped for a week or two these are great to make on a quiet afternoon to have ready for a quick holiday gift, if you can keep yourself from eating them in the meantime. So far, keeping them in a paper bag so I cant SEE them every time I walk by is working for me, but you never know when temptation might strike.