Drinking Chocolate with Candied Orange Peel
Updated: Jan 29
Late December is a time of celebration for many all around the world, with holidays lasting through the New Year. A nostalgic holiday flavor for the Test Kitchen is chocolate and orange, the rich chocolate elevating the aromatic and sweet orange. By turning these into drinking chocolate and candied orange peel, they complement each other and take it to new levels!
The foundation of the recipe is a home-made candied orange peel, which has a rich history in the culinary world. Candied fruits, also known as crystallized fruit or glacé fruit, has existed since the 14th century. Whole fruits, slices of fruit, or peels are heated in a sugary syrup, which removes moisture and preserves the fruit. This allows the fruit to retain its quality for months to come without any risk of spoilage! Commonly candied fruits include dates, cherries, kiwi, pineapple, ginger, orange, and lemon peel.
This recipe is a classic preparation with a slight twist of adding whole cloves (spice) to the syrup. The oranges are washed and using your favorite Utility Knife, cut around the skin twice to make four whole separate segments while the orange is still in one piece. Carefully remove the skin and white pith from the orange flesh. The flesh can be sliced and eaten for breakfast, or juiced, or frozen and blended for smoothies. It’s up to you to prevent food waste-- so eat it up!
Now that there are few large pieces of orange peel, slice them lengthwise ¼-inch thick, making sure to keep them even as possible so they all cook at the same rate. Boil the orange peel in a large pot of water for 15 minutes, to soften it and make it easier to candy. Then make a syrup out of equal parts water and sugar, with the addition of crushed cloves. Other spices can be used, but we think the aroma of clove and orange are a natural pair. After draining and rinsing the boiled peels, add them to the spiced sugar syrup and cook until very soft.
Once the orange peel is soft, remove it from the syrup and coat it in a light amount of sugar to help accelerate the drying process. Spread the peel on a foil-lined sheet tray and let dry in a cool place in the kitchen. The remaining orange syrup is great to use with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate! Or are we getting ahead of ourselves...
After one or two days, the orange peel will be dry and have a beautifully preserved orange flavor. This candy can be enjoyed by itself or used as a garnish for a variety of desserts! This leads us to the main event: drinking chocolate.
Drinking Chocolate is a thick, French-style hot chocolate made from almost equal parts whole milk, chopped bittersweet chocolate, a pinch of salt, and other flavorings. Hot chocolate has a unique culinary history, as the original beverage was first made as early as 500 BC by Mayans in South America. This bitter and spicy beverage was made from cocoa seeds, water, cornmeal, chili peppers, and other spices. Sweet tasting drinking chocolate was invented by European nobility in the 17th century and was very expensive since it came all the way from South America. The grand total for a pound of cocoa could come up to $60-87 today!
This drinking chocolate is not nearly that expensive, but it makes a difference using high-quality chocolate. It starts with milk that is heated until steaming, then the chopped bittersweet chocolate is whisked in until smooth and creamy, along with the orange simple syrup, vanilla extract, dissolved espresso powder, and salt. Then coffee liquor or chocolate liquor or orange liquor can be added for the adults! It can be topped with whipped cream if desired.
The espresso and salt are important chocolate enhancers, giving the drink depth, balance, and definition of flavor, not a distinct flavor component. The chocolate is heated back until steaming, and enjoyed immediately with pieces of the orange candy!
The drinking chocolate is very thick and meant to slowly sip as a dessert. The flavor can be adjusted with extra orange syrup or by mixing cocoa powder with hot water to make it less sweet. Try dipping the orange peel in the chocolate for a chewy and sweet delicacy. Happy Holidays from Forge To Table!
Drinking Chocolate with Candied Orange Peel
For those who have never tried drinking chocolate, imagine a rich, creamy, and bittersweet chocolate bar that you slowly sip! The candied orange peel makes not only a festive garnish but an aromatic syrup that sweetens the beverage. Use extra candied orange for coffee or tea!
Recipe by Sam Burgess
Forge To Table Knives
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 4, 6 fluid ounce servings and 4 cups candy
4 large Naval oranges, washed
3-⅔ cups sugar, divided
3 cups water
2 teaspoon whole cloves, crushed
2 cups whole milk
8 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoon orange simple syrup (optional)
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon instant espresso powder dissolved in ½ teaspoon hot water (optional)
1 small pinch salt
2 fluid ounces coffee liquor, chocolate liquor, or orange liquor (optional)
2 fluid ounces vodka (optional)
(PREPARE ORANGE) Using your favorite Forge To Table Knife, cut each orange into 4 verticle segments, cutting around the entire orange. Remove each segment, including the white pith, in one piece. Cut into ¼ inch wide strips. Use the orange flesh for juice or cut into segments for breakfast!
(CANDY ORANGE PEEL) Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Add sliced orange peel, and boil until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain orange peel, rinse, and drain again. Bring water, 3 cups of sugar, and whole cloves to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add sliced orange peel and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until very soft, about 35 minutes. Remove from heat.
(LET CANDY DRY) Prepare a baking sheet with a layer of foil. Place remaining ⅔ cup sugar in a medium bowl. Use tongs or a spider to remove orange peel from syrup and place in the bowl. Toss the peel with sugar, and lay in an even layer on the foil-lined baking sheet. Cool syrup, strain through a sieve, and reserve. Let candy stand until the coating is dry, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 days.
(START DRINKING CHOCOLATE) Once the candied orange peel is ready, heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until steaming. Whisk in the chocolate until smooth and creamy, then add the orange simple syrup, vanilla extract, dissolved espresso powder (optional), and salt.
(FINISH DRINKING CHOCOLATE) Cook until steaming again. Remove from heat and stir in coffee liquor or chocolate liquor or orange liquor (optional) and vodka, if using, and serve in 6 floz teacups. Garnish with candied orange peel and sip your problems away!
Feel free to add more or less of the orange syrup to make the drinking chocolate sweeter or less sweet. Extra cocoa powder dissolved in water can also make the drink less sweet if too much syrup is added.