Chocolate-dipped orange crisps are more about the citrus and less about the sugar. (Photo by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post)

Chocolate-dipped orange crisps are more about the citrus and less about the sugar. (Photo by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post)

Balance of flavor is just right in chocolate-orange crisps

These chocolate-dipped orange crisps are more about the citrus and less about the sugar.

Chocolate and orange often arrive together at a holiday party in the form of chocolate-dipped, candied orange peels. Although I am enamored with the flavor duo, I am almost always left wishing the treat were more about the citrus and less about the sugar, as the rind is typically boiled until sticky-sweet in a concentrated sugar syrup.

The accompanying recipe is my wish come true. It captures the pure essence of the chocolate-orange pairing with enough sugar to temper the citrus rind’s bitterness without drowning out its flavor. Cutting a whole orange or two into very thin wheels using a mandoline and baking the slices at a low temperature — dehydrating them, really — turns them into crisp, almost-stained-glass rounds of concentrated orange flavor. The sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar that dissolves into the fruit as it cooks offsets the intensity of the peel without making it markedly sweet.

The orange crisps are then dipped in melted chocolate and then chilled until the coating has set. They make a lovely holiday gift layered in a box or jar and wrapped with a ribbon — if you can resist keeping them all to yourself.

Chocolate-dipped orange crisps

Note: In testing, we found it easier and safer to use 2 oranges to get the 24 slices.

Make ahead: The dipped crisps need to be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes, and up to 2 weeks, before serving. Store in an airtight container (layered between pieces of wax paper).

1 large or 2 medium navel oranges, well scrubbed (see headnote)

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 200 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Use a mandoline to cut the oranges into 24 very thin slices. Discard any pits (sometimes found even in navel oranges), then arrange the orange slices on the baking sheets in a single layer. Sprinkle them with the sugar. Bake (upper and lower racks) for about 2 hours, until the oranges are dried and crisp, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 1 hour. Cool completely. Line the baking sheets with wax paper.

Place the chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH in 30-second intervals, stirring after each time until the chocolate is just melted and smooth. Dip the orange slices in chocolate to coat them halfway, returning them to the wax paper-lined baking sheets once they are dipped. (Tip the bowl as needed to get coverage once the chocolate level gets low.)

Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until set.

Makes 8 servings (makes 24 pieces). Nutrition per piece: 35 calories, no protein, 5 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, no cholesterol, no sodium, no dietary fiber, 3 grams sugar.

Ellie Krieger is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and cookbook author. She blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com.

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