If in doubt, dip it in chocolate

This time of year is always a little hectic with all the baked goods I am making for friends and family. That means hours spent creaming butter and sugar, baking dozens of loaves of bread and frosting hundreds of cookies. This year I added a new confectionary creation to my repertoire – dipping fruit in dark chocolate. Not only did this turn out to be the easiest homemade gift I’ve tried so far, the project fit nicely into my tight holiday budget.

I chose to make candied orange peels, which when dipped in chocolate are reminiscent of Terry’s chocolate orange ball which some of you may be familiar with. In addition, I stopped into Price Right at the corner of University and Culver to pick up two bags of apricots and one bag of almonds for under $15.

Tack on the cost of two bags of dark chocolate and a $4 bag of oranges, and the entire project cost me about $25. This recipe yielded over 100 orange peels and about 40 apricots, so feel free to reduce or increase the number of oranges you use based on your need, but the remainder of the recipe should stay the same.

For both projects, I used:

  • 9 navel oranges (you just need the peels, so you’ll want to find a use for those insides, like making juice or feeding them to hungry kids, husbands or boyfriends)
  • About 40 dried apricots and 40 almonds
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Wax paper
  • Two bags of Hershey’s dark chocolate chips (or whatever brand/type of chocolate you prefer)

The orange peels will need to be prepared about two days in advance in order for them to dry sufficiently for dipping. You will need two pots of water on the stove for this process. One of the pots should contain three cups of water and three cups of sugar. Bring the pot of plain water to a boil.

While the water is heating up, cut the oranges in half and remove the flesh from the skin using a spoon. Try to get the insides of the orange peels as clean as possible. Slice the orange peels in uniform sizes. Place the peels in the boiling water for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, begin heating up the pot of sugar and water. Remove the orange peels from the first pot of water after 15 minutes and drain them. Next, let the peels simmer in the sugar water for about 45 minutes. You’ll want the sugar to be dissolved before adding the orange peels.

Drain the orange peels and toss them in sugar (use your own judgment on the amount of sugar…you’ll be tossing them in sugar again later). Transfer to drying racks for at least 10 hours. Before the oranges are completely dried, toss them in sugar once more to give them the one final sugar dusting. Allow the peels to dry on racks for another 12 hours if possible.

Once your orange peels are candied and hardened pretty well, you are ready to dip. I used this video from Chow as a guide on how to melt chocolate on the stovetop. Simply put a skillet with some water on the stove and placed a glass bowl in it. Heat up the water to a very light boil. Place your chocolate in the bowl and stir it with a spatula until it is completely melted.

You’ll want to cover a surface in wax paper before you begin dipping.  When you dip the apricots and orange peels, be sure to leave a segment of the fruits uncovered so people can see what they are and so you have something to hold onto. The chocolate will be hot and does burn a smidgen when it makes contact with your skin. Dip the peels into chocolate, letting the excess drain off before placing them on the wax paper to dry. With the apricots, you’ll want to put the almond on the apricot after it is dipped.

After about five hours, the candy should be dried and peel easily off the wax paper. The good news about these treats is the sugar high you get from them will keep you up and moving for all those cookies you need to frost and gifts you still need to wrap.

 

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