I had read about caramel oranges in British recipes, but never seen any, let alone eaten them, not even since I came to live in Canada, where you can buy things like Eccles cakes at the supermarket. And then, once I started fiddling with the concept, I ended up adding cocoa. So these are not entirely authentic, but they taste good. Okay, not everyone likes the combination of orange and chocolate — including some of my taste testers — but for those who do, these are healthier than those chocolate-covered orange cakes and candies. If you don’t, try subbing apple slices, or maybe banana. Or . . . well, in a world where people pay for chocolate-covered bacon, anything is possible.
The cocoa and brown sugar topping firms up quickly in the fridge and stays that way. It’s not like melted chocolate; I tried putting it on the orange slices with a brush, but it’s too thick for that. Not to worry, it spreads easily with a spoon.
Mandarins aren’t the only orange you can use; I had a lot of them left over from last week’s beet salad, but you could use any orange that’s easy to peel, or even tangerines.
If you like, you can cut the oranges with the skin still on, then use the knife to cut it off the individual slices — but this takes longer, is pretty much impossible with the top and bottom slices, and isn’t really necessary. It does make the oranges look better, with the bright inner flesh showing, but that’s about all. (With lemons, on the other hand, you need to get rid of all the inner white stuff — it’s terribly bitter.)
Also, while an unbroken circle looks better, don’t stress out about it — you’re not making doughnuts, and if you were, you could call the broken ones crullers. Or just eat them. Same here.
- 6 mandarin oranges
- 1 Tb. butter
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- Peel the mandarins and cut each into four discs.
- Carefully pick out the white pith in the centers. (Don’t worry if you break the circle shape.)
- Melt the butter over low heat in a small pot.
- Whisk in the brown sugar and let it melt.
- Carefully add the cocoa.
- Continue to heat, whisking constantly, till the mixture is smooth.
- Let it cool for at least five minutes, but not much longer.
- Spoon about a teaspoonful onto each orange and spread to cover.
- Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.