More often than is probably normal, the moments before I fall asleep at night are spent thinking about things I want to eat. This recipe began just that way about one year ago, also near Christmas, a time when everything I want to make seems to involve chocolate, ginger, or copious amounts of cheese piled on starchy things.
This recipe is decidedly chocolate-focused. I used a nice bittersweet chocolate bar because I love dark chocolate and orange together. They’re incredibly fragrant, floral, and holiday-ish in combination. The pistachios add a nice mild, slightly salty crunch that goes perfectly with the chocolate and orange. Also, they look pretty.
This recipe is very easy to make, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment to make my own candy (and eat it). You can feel even more accomplished by candying your own orange peel, or you can just buy it already made. I won’t judge you.
Fun Fact: Pistachios contain lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are carotenoids (yellow-red-orange pigments) that are involved in retina health. Those who eat foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin may have lower rates of age-related macular degeneration.
Dark Chocolate Orange Pistachio Bark
3½ oz. bittersweet chocolate
3 Tablespoons shelled, roasted, salted pistachios
2 teaspoons diced candied orange peel (instructions for candying below)
The measurements above are to taste and can be altered as desired.
Chop the chocolate, and melt in a double boiler. (I use a glass bowl set over a pot with about an inch of simmering water.) While the chocolate is melting, shell the pistachios, if not already done, and chop to whatever size you want in the bark. I did mine in approximate halves and quarters. Spread the melted chocolate to desired thinness over waxed paper. Distribute the pistachios and orange peel prettily over the top. Let the chocolate cool and harden for 2-3 hours, then break into pieces. Store unlikely leftovers in an airtight container.
Candied Orange Peel
1 cup water
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
Prep: Bring two small-medium pots of water to boil (or just one – you decide after reading instructions). Rinse oranges thoroughly. Slice the ends off of each orange, then score the peels so that there are two peel hemispheres on each orange. Carefully remove the peels without ripping into smaller pieces, and then slice into 1/8 or 1/4-inch slices.
Blanching: Blanch the sliced orange peels in boiling water twice for about 3 minutes each time, rinsing the peels and changing the water after each blanch.
Candying: Stir together the water and sugar until sugar is dissolved, and bring to a gentle boil. Place the orange peels in the syrup, and boil for about one hour, checking occasionally to make sure the water hasn’t boiled away. Note: I have made these twice, and the first time, I found an hour to be too short because the orange peels were limp, though delicious. The second time, I went closer to 75 minutes, and it worked pretty well, though some might find them too sticky. You can try lifting them with a fork during cooking to check progress.
Cooling: Remove the candied peels from the syrup, and place on a cooling rack set over a plate or waxed paper to catch the drips. Let cool thoroughly. The orange peels will stiffen as they cool.