It’s not too late to make chocolate orange peel.

Over Christmas I find myself addicted to clementines. I always feel a little guilty about throwing the peel away – too many in the wormery upsets the worms – then I found this recipe for candied orange sticks in The River Cottage Preserves Handbook. So I just replace the orange peel with clementines, although I have used grapefruit peel as well. There are always little bits of peel that are too small to turn into sticks and these I cut up and use in other recipes as candied peel . I must say that the about 25% of these don’t make it as the presents I intend, well I have to check the quality!

Ingredients

4-5 large oranges (If using clementine peel it takes around 10 skins), 500g granulated sugar, 1 tbsp glucose syrup, 200g good plain chocolate.

Method (it looks complicated but actually isn’t)

Scrub the oranges and using a sharp knife, remove the peel and attached pith. Weigh out 250g or peel and cut into slices about 6mm x 5cm. Place the peel in a large pan and cover with 2 litres of cold water.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, drain and return to the pan with 1 litre of cold water. Bring to the boil again and simmer, covered, this time for 45 minutes (30 minutes for clementine peel). Then add the sugar and stir until it’s dissolved, simmer for a further 30 minutes, still covered. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for 24 hours.

Bring the pan to the boil again – if using glucose syrup, add it now – and boil for 30 minutes, until all the liquid has evaporated and the sticks are coated with bubbling syrup. Allow to cool then carefully remove sticks to a wire rack. Leave in a warm place (an airing cupboard is ideal) for 24 hours.

Break the chocolate in to pieces and melt in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from heat and dip half of each orange stick in the melted chocolate, placing on greaseproof paper to set. Before dipping the sticks will last 3-4 months, once dipped in chocolate they are best eaten within 3 weeks. (As if they are going to last that long!)

A Palm Oil Free Alternative to Nutella

It’s World Nutella Day and if like me you don’t want to join in because of the palm oil in Nutella, here is an alternative.

From Recipes from an Unknown Kitchen this is a chocolate spread, however if you add finely ground hazelnuts (around 1/2 tablespoon) it turns into a nutella-ish spread.

Betty’s Chocolate Spread 

I had to add this homemade chocolate spread, although it is perhaps too nice for my waistline. I did add more cocoa to make it chocolatier (is that a real word?). Easy to make and scrummy.

1 tablespoon soft butter

1 tablespoon icing sugar

2 tablespoons dried milk

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

1 tablespoon boiling water

Method

If the dried milk you are using is the granulated rather than fine powder type give it a whizz in the coffee grinder or smash it in a mortar, this makes it easier to mix in.

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl then add the boiling water and mix well, mashing it with the back of the spoon. It never is quite as smooth as the bought variety but that doesn’t affect the spreadability or taste. Put it in a jar or small covered dish and keep in the fridge. I don’t know how long it lasts as it hasn’t got past a week in my house.