I have a huge sweet tooth. For me to stay on track with my diet, it's important for me to have a lot of healthy, wholesome dessert options available to eat. Dark chocolate, either alone or with fruit, is one of my favorites.
Besides being incredibly delicious, it offers many health benefits including antioxidants to fight cancer and unsaturated fats to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Chocolates also stimulates endorphin production and contains serotonin which elevates mood.
The higher the cocoa content, the better the health benefit, so I recommend 75% or 85% cocoa. And don't wash down your chocolate with milk-- studies have shown that milk prevents the antioxidants present in chocolate from being absorbed properly by the stomach.
If you have a little extra time on your hands and want a super natural dark chocolate treat, try these candied orange peels. By boiling fresh orange peels in sweetened water, you can turn what is normally thrown away in the garbage into a sweet and chewy jelly, which is delicious when covered in melted dark chocolate.
Dark Chocolate Orange Peels
2-4 naval oranges
1/2 lb to 1 lb dark chocolate
1 cup sugar or sugar substitute (I used agave nectar)
1. Slice the ends off oranges. Cut the peel with a knife from one cut end to the other. Carefully peel the orange off in one large section
2. Flatten orange peel on cutting board. Cut into thin strips
3. Fill medium sized pot half full with water and bring to a boil. Place peels in boiling water for 3 minutes. (Now would be a good time to eat the orange you just peeled)
4. Remove peels, rinse under running water, and return to pot. Boil again for 3 minutes
5. Remove peels from pot. Discard water in pot and replace with 1 cup fresh water. Add sugar or sugar substitute. Stir
6. Bring mixture to simmer. Add orange peels and simmer for 1 hour. Check on and stir from time to time
7. Once fully cooked, remove peels from pot and place on rack to cool
8. If starting with large chunks of baking chocolate, cut into smaller chunks before warming. Heat chocolate in microwave in 1 minute segments, stirring in between each heating period. Do not overheat.
9. Once melted, dip orange peels in chocolate using a fork. Remove quickly and let cool on rack. Place parchment paper below to catch chocolate drippings. (I cooled directly on parchment paper, which prevented them from forming the proper stick shape). Once chocolate hardens, store in airtight container.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen