Years ago I decided to make cookies for my co-workers as a holiday gift. I had not yet gone to culinary school and baking was hardly a science, but more of a mysterious miracle. Things either worked or they didn’t. It was always a gamble.
It was 11 pm when I accidentally burnt the chocolate that I was melting in my double boiler. It was not that much later when I experienced what it means to have chocolate seize. I placed the bowl, still wet from cleaning, back over the water and started melting another batch of chocolate only to have it immediately become hard and crumbly. Still later, after doing the same thing again, I learned that my actions were causing the chocolate to seize and that I couldn’t attribute it to karma or plain bad luck.
Later that night, midnight long past and hours after the chocolate disaster, a winter storm knocked out power and left me in the dark with half-baked cookies. The next morning, running on just hours of sleep, I went to the store and bought candy to fill up my empty cookie tins. When I handed them out at work, I didn’t mention that homemade cookies were the original gift.
A couple of years later, having just been married months earlier, I convinced my husband to help me make homemade pasta for all our friends and family. It was almost the end of our marriage. It took about three full weekends to make all the pasta and during that time pasta hung drying from coat hangers hooked on kitchen cabinets and on towels over beds and furniture. A conservative estimate is that our dog Lady ate about 30% of the drying pasta. That alone was a blow to the project, but the real kicker came when we started loading it up for shipping. Dried pasta is a delicate thing and I can only imagine people’s faces when they opened the box to find a bag of pulverized noodles. Like the cookies from years earlier, pasta was crossed off my list of food gifts.
Despite my failures, I love a homemade gift from the kitchen and this year, I decided to get back in the saddle and give it another whirl with candied orange slices dipped in chocolate. My grandmother patiently taught me how to make candied grapefruit peel years ago and while I love those sugary citrus strips with a cup of tea, I liked the idea of candying the entire slice. Plus, the fact that each slice would be dipped in melted chocolate offered a chance at chocolate redemption.
Candied Orange Slices dipped in Dark Chocolate – Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes about 2 dozen treats
Adapted from the Martha Stewart Living recipe for Glaceed Orange Slices.
For the oranges:
2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large navel oranges
For the chocolate:
3 ounces bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate
Wax paper or parchment paper
In a large pot, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Boil, stirring as needed, until the sugar dissolves.
Cut the large navel oranges crosswise into ¼-inch thick rounds, discarding the ends. Cut each round in half to get half-moon shapes.
Carefully place the orange halves in the boiling sugar syrup. Reduce the heat to a strong simmer. Cut out a piece of parchment paper to just cover the surface of the pot. Carefully place over the oranges and syrup and cook, at a simmer, for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Remove the orange halves using a slotted spoon and let cool and dry on a wire rack for at least three hours and up to overnight.
When ready to dip the oranges, break the chocolate into small pieces and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook for 30 seconds. Remove the chocolate from the microwave and stir. Repeat. After this second time in the microwave, any remaining pieces of chocolate should melt as you stir it. If not, return the chocolate to the microwave and cook in 10 second increments, stirring after each time in the microwave, until the chocolate is melted.
Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. Dip half of each orange slice in the chocolate and place on the lined baking sheet. Refrigerate to set the chocolate quickly. Chocolate-dipped orange slices can be kept in the refrigerator stored in an airtight container for up to three weeks.