Chocolate + orange = a Christmas treat

Chocolate oranges always make me think of my dad. You know, the big balls of orange-flavored chocolate wrapped in orange foil that appear in stores before Christmas every year. Orange-flavored chocolate may be just about the only kind of chocolate my mom doesn’t absolutely adore, but my much-less-chocoholic dad loves chocolate oranges and he usually got one in his stocking on Christmas morning when we were growing up. These cookies were inspired by chocolate oranges, but unlike the candy, they are vegan and, in my opinion, even more scrumptious!

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Chocolate-wrapped Orange Cookies

Makes 1 ½ – 2 dozen.

Ingredients:

  • ½ c vegan margarine
  • ⅔ c (140 g) granulated sugar
  • orange zest from 1 large orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 ⅔ c (235 g) flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 c (175 g) vegan chocolate chips
  • ½ Tbsp vegetable shortening

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, combine the margarine, sugar, and orange zest. Using the stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat the mixture on high speed until fluffy, then mix in the vanilla and orange juice.

Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the bowl and mix on low speed or by hand until the ingredients are well combined.

Scoop tablespoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheet and partially flatten them with the heel of your hand to a thickness of about ½ to ¾ of an inch.

Bake the cookies for about 13 minutes or until the edges are firm to the touch and lightly browned. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cookies are cool, cover a baking sheet or a couple of plates with wax paper. Melt the chocolate chips and shortening together in a double boiler or (carefully) in the microwave in a shallow bowl. Mix well so that the shortening is evenly distributed throughout the molten chocolate. If using a double boiler, remove the chocolate mixture from the heat once melted and pour into a shallow bowl.

Taking one cookie at a time, drop it right-side-up into the chocolate so that the bottom is covered in chocolate. Remove the cookie from the chocolate and place it on the wax paper. Repeat for each cookie. You can use a spoon to drizzle any leftover chocolate over the tops of the cookies.

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Rosemary-infused chocolate fuuuuuuudge

I think of my college years as the period when I became a baker and a cook in my own right. Some of my favorite college memories were made in the little dorm kitchens shared by all the residents on a floor. One of my closest friends taught me how to make pretzels from a recipe she had learned as a foreign exchange student in Germany. Other times, we made pizza from scratch for a special dinner or scones to fuel a weekend afternoon study session. I always kept a bag of flour and a few other basic baking ingredients in my dorm room, because who knew when the baking urge would strike!

Dorm living isn’t conducive to complex recipes with many ingredients, so when I found a simple recipe I loved, I made it again and again. Today’s recipe is inspired by a recipe for chocolate fudge that I found on the back of a can of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk. The recipe’s short ingredient list and limited number of steps made it perfect for producing in a dorm kitchen. Here is my new spin on the recipe, a delightfully soft and deeply flavorful vegan fudge made with rosemary-infused sweetened condensed coconut milk.

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Rosemary Chocolate Fudge

Makes about 22 oz fudge.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (11.25 oz) sweetened condensed coconut milk (there are recipes here, here, and here to make your own if you have difficulty finding it in a store)
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 12 oz vegan semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp coffee extract

Line the bottom and sides of a 9” by 5” loaf pan with wax paper. Add 2 tsp of dried rosemary to a spice bag or a tea ball.

Empty the can of coconut milk into a medium saucepan. Bring the milk to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until it is smooth and even. Once the milk is simmering, add the spice bag containing the rosemary to the pot. Let the milk simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring the contents of the pot occasionally.

After 10 minutes have passed, remove the pot from the heat and discard the spice bag. Add the chocolate chips to the pot and stir until the chips are completely melted and smooth. Stir in the coffee extract.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared loaf pan, and smooth out the top of the fudge with the back of a spoon.

Place the loaf pan in the fridge and chill for at least 1 ½ hrs before serving.

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