Today I am sharing a recipe for an edible treat rather than a paint and pattern combination. So, here is my annual 'festive, fairly fail-safe, food for fabulous friends fare'. It is Chocolate Orange Sticks and gilded fruits.
I have photographed stages of the project in case you would like to make them too. They make a lovely gift and quite a few can be made in a session. The orange and chocolate makes our house smell delicious, it is one of my Chrismas rituals and appears to be well recieved. You need a few hours free and a good soundtrack or audio play to enjoy listening to. The recipe is adapted from 'Willie's Chocolate Bible' by Willie Harcourt-Cooze.
Oranges are often at their best around Nov/Dec so this is an ideal treat for this time of year.. You will need:
Half a dozen unwaxed oranges, a vanilla pod, 4 cloves and 150 grams ofgranulated sugar, 300 gms of good chocolate for coating the fruit, a sprinking of chilli powder and some edible gold dust although the last two items are not essential.
Remove a slice from the top and bottom of the orange and cut it into quarters. Remove most of the pulp from each quarter leaving a small ammount attached to the pith. I put the left over orange pulp into a food processor. Place the orange peelings into a pan of boiling water and let them bubble for 5 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon and drop them into a bowl of cold water and let more cold water trickle over them for 5 minutes. Place the cold orange pieces back into the hot pan and re-boil. They must have three boilings and chillings, this sounds like a faff but it does not take long and takes the bitterness from the pith. It is worth the effort.
I chop the remaining orange pulp in the food procesor until almost smooth then pour into a clean pan with the sugar, vanilla pod, cloves and the boiled rinsed orange quarters. Add just enough cold water to cover the the peel then bring the pan to the boil over a medium heat. Let it bubble for a couple of minutes then reduce the heat, put a lid on the pan and let everything simmer for an hour. Remove the lid again and let it cook gently for another thirty mintes. The recipe notes that the mixture witll be thick and sticky. I have made these orange sticks countless times and even if I follow Willie's recipe exactly I can not get a thick, sticky mixture but no matter as it has always been delicious. I re-use the orange, syrup as a filling for crepes or to pour over sponge pudding and ice cream.
Line an oven tray with baking paper and place a wire rack on top of it, spread the orange quarters on top of the rack and place them in the oven pre heated to 100c for 1 to 2 hours to dry out. Do not overdry.
When cooled, tip the cooked orange pieces onto a chopping board; before cutting them into strips I sprinkle a fine dusting of chilli powder onto them. That is my preference and is not endorsed by Mr Harcourt-Cooze. Now, start to prepare the chocolate to coat them with.
Willie's Chocolate Bible tells the reader how to temper the chocolate; I have just read this bit for the first time and realise that my way of doing things is incorrect but it works for me. This is my way... I select a large heatproof glass bowl and place it into an even larger sauce pan of cold water. The water should not reach more than a third of the way up the outside of the bowl. Place chunks of the chocolate in the bowl. Bring the water to a gentle simmer and let the chunks melt slowly in the glass bowl top up the choc chunks as neccesary, make sure that no water gets into the bowl and do not let the chocolate burn. I use two 100g bars of dark 87% chocolate and one of 72%. The bitter chocolate makes a delicious contrast to the sweet, candied peel.
One at a time dip each orange stick into the molten chocolate let the excess drip back into the bowl. Leave the tip of the orange exposed. After coating the orange sticks lay them onto baking paper to dry. If I have time I suspend the orange sticks from wooden skewers instead of laying them on paper. The skewer method gives a better looking result but is fiddly and time consuming.
If I have more chocolate than is needed for the orange pieces I dip soft dried apricots and crystalised or stem ginger into the remaining chocolate. Agen prunes, figs and stoneless dates are all lovely dipped in the chocolate. If I have any marzipan or blanched almonds I might stuff them into the prunes before coating them.
Hours later when the chocolate has set hard and glossy I sprinkle tiny amounts of edible gold powder over the coated fruit; sometimes I brush it over the chocolate with a soft stencil brush that I keep for gilding food with.
In previous years I have painted and stencilled gift boxes to contain the the gilded fruit but I bought these cones in Ikea, so will display the orange sticks to look like fries.
Now, go share the love but keep a hefty portion for yourself, they are rather yummy.