You know you’re a food allergy mom when. . . you find yourself re-imagining childhood treats! Chocolate oranges are a December holiday memory for me and I wanted to share the flavor and fun with my kids. Longtime readers of this blog will know I get into the chocolate crafting spirit at this time of year and 2014 is no exception. . .
My family moved to the United States from England when I was about three years old but our love of British chocolate endured. In the store the other day I perused the label of a childhood favourite (see what I did there?) – a chocolate orange from Terry’s – and knew it wasn’t an option for our family because of nut warnings.
I debated getting chocolate molds (amazon affiliate link), orange foil (amazon affiliate link), and orange extract to create these but cooking with food allergies is complicated enough without getting a bunch of extra supplies. Enter Google! The very first result when I searched “home made chocolate orange” was a post from February 2013 on a site called “Lilyshop” entitled “How to make a chocolate orange.” The author used a hollowed-out orange to accomplish her orange shape and the presentation was pretty stunning. Her ingredients were chocolate, cream, and orange extract – none of which are problematic for our family with our current restrictions (peanut and tree nut free, oat free, vegetarian, and sesame free) but I still strive to go top 8 allergen free whenever I can so I can be the most inclusive.
So! Yesterday we braved the store (we did venture out over the weekend to go to the Clark County Museum and the Natural History Museum as a family but I wasn’t going to go shopping!) to get items for a holiday packet to send to my brother (December 1 is the recommended final ship date for APO packages if you want them to make it to their intended destination by December 25th). All I needed were oranges since I had the chocolate and coconut oil I anticipated using to create the recipe (I skipped orange extract because I wasn’t sure what brand would be safe and also wanted it to be easy to make).
The photo above was taken by my son and he helped me make these and is by me as I write this post so he voted it was the best picture. I convinced him cropping out his foot on the carpet by the bag of chocolate chips would be ideal, though.
Vegan and Nut Free Chocolate Oranges
Knife and cutting board
Muffin pan (optional)
Metal saucepan and metal bowl (essentially a make-shift double boiler)
2 medium sized oranges (navel is just fine)
1 teaspoon of orange juice
1 teaspoon of orange zest
1 9 ounce bag of Enjoy Life dark chocolate morsels (other Enjoy Life varieties are fine)
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
Water for your makeshift double boiler
Halve one of the oranges and use a small knife to hollow it out. There are great in-process pictures here so I didn’t try to take pictures with a knife in hand myself. Do this over a bowl so you catch the juice. With the second orange, zest it on the bottom hemisphere so you can then halve it and hollow out the top. You’ll likely have enough chocolate to make 1 1/2 orange peels into chocolate oranges but if you need more zest I’d use the second orange for zesting and any excess chocolate can go into an ice cube tray or other mold for general snacking.
Tip: when I hollowed out the orange halves there was a small hole at the bottom so before you melt the entire bag of chocolate chips, reserve about 10 individual morsels (more if you’re using mini-chips) to fill the hole before adding the melted chocolate mixture. Set the orange halves in a muffin pan or on something that will keep them stable.
Heat some water (maybe an inch or two, making sure it won’t touch the bowl you set on top) in the saucepan to boiling and reduce the heat to simmer the water. Set a metal bowl on top of the saucepan and add your chocolate chips (less the 10 you reserved). Stir with a silicone spatula/scraper and add the orange zest. Follow with the one teaspoon of coconut oil. Once the mixture has become liquid, you’re going to add the orange juice very gradually. The chocolate may start to seize a little so that is why I’d suggest waiting until the very end of melting it.
Once mixed, spoon the chocolate into the hollowed out orange halves and use a knife to level the top. Put them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes or in the fridge for longer. You want them to set but not become solid at this point because you’re going to slice them before putting them in the fridge to become solid.
If you want to be really fancy, after you quarter the orange halves into slices you can use a toothpick to make some detailing on the side of each slice or you can leave them smooth.
They were delicious right after slicing – easy to bite into – so if you prefer them at that stage be aware that putting them into the fridge again for too long is going to give you a more snappy chocolate instead of a yielding one. I am thinking if you want them fudge-like you can add coconut cream to your chocolate mixture but I haven’t tested the idea yet.
As presentation goes, this is a lot of fun! Maybe do a version with mint or make a batch of Cybele Pascal’s top 8 free thin mints to accompany the chocolate oranges for an allergy friendly tea party?
If you’d like to buy pre-made fancy chocolates, check out Indie Candy (I’ve sampled the top 8 free orange truffles and they are amazing), Premium Chocolatiers, or Vermont Nut Free Chocolates (these do have milk) to start but you can really have fun making treats in your own kitchen so I hope you’ll try!