So, what happened was, I had this post all written up and saved in my drafts, ready to go up for White Day, on March 14th, with some minor final edits. Shortly before that day arrived, some major stuff went down in my personal life, and the blog and everything else fell by the wayside for about a month.
I’m on the mend and ready to move forward now. Some other things happened in the meantime that added to the delay, like my back going out so severely that I was on bedrest for over a week — I’m still not fully recovered, but I am able to sit at my desk for longer periods now and am going so stir crazy from being trapped in the house outside of anything more than a short walk that if I don’t do something that at least feels productive, I may delve headlong into an existential crisis I’m not sure I’ll recover from.
2017 feels like a glitch in the machine — a major one. I know I am far from the only one who feels this way. Aside from all of the political upheaval back home, things have been, shall we say, tense on the peninsula this past month. It seems we’ve made it through the most worrisome period unscathed and un-plunged into an unnecessary war. Nonetheless, I will feel much better once South Korea has her own leader at the helm once again, at the beginning of May.
Since I feel like the original post had some information about a particular set of Korean holidays that may be of interest to some, I will leave that bit in tact, although it is no longer timely. The good thing about chocolate is it never goes out of season. Moreover, it is a classic stress-eating food, and although you may not be having the particular kind of whale of a time with life I am at the moment, I’m pretty sure most of the world is stressed right now for one reason or another. Chocolates for everyone.
In Korea, there are two Valentine’s days. Well, two versions of the holiday — three if you count the one for singles. On Valentine’s Day, women traditionally give chocolates or other gifts to men. Someone very clever (a confectionary company in Japan, as it turns out) chose yet another day a month later for the men to return the sentiment — White Day on March 14th. A month following that the singles finally get their moment with Black Day, when it’s customary to eat a Chinese-Korean dish of black noodles called jajangmyeon. Black Day is my favorite, because it is a unique kind of Korean-funny, and manages to be sarcastic and self-pitying at the same time.
While the holidays are rarely celebrated by people over 25, B and I tend to celebrate them on a whim. In years past, before we were married, I made him some truly elaborate cakes to celebrate Valentine’s, but the day kind of snuck up on me this year, and anyway, he’s gotten so used to coming home to a cake or some other baked thing that it’s become truly difficult to impress him.
So instead, I went for White Day chocolates. After tasting the hallabong orange syrup I made for the Persian love cake, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I kept wondering what would happen if I reduced it down and used it as a spread or filling for something.
Good things, as it turns out. These chocolates, to be more specific.
The process here is a bit time-consuming (and messy), but the chocolates themselves are not difficult to make. It will go more smoothly if you happen to have a filled chocolate mold, but it is completely possible to do it without one. In fact, you could even use an ice cube tray if that’s what it comes down to.
Worth the mess, in my opinion, but if you’d rather not fuss about with the chocolate, you can always just make the marmalade and save it in a jar as a nice spread for toast or scones (which I will be posting a recipe for next week). And if you have any extra candied orange peel (and you should), those can always be dipped in any extra chocolate and eaten as candies on their own.
- 2 hallabong oranges, sliced thinly (any kind of citrus can be subbed)
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 16 cardamom pods
- 2 vanilla beans
- 4 cups of semi-sweet or dark melting chocolate
- dried rose petals and pistachios for decoration (optional)
- Place the orange slices, cardamom and water into a shallow pan. Cut the vanilla beans open and scrape the contents into the pan, dropping the pods in afterward.
- Cut a circle of parchment paper big enough to cover the surface of the pan and press it down on top of the oranges to keep them submerged. Bring the pan to a boil and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Simmer for about 35-45 minutes, until the orange peels are cooked through and the syrup coats the back of the spoon.
- Let the mixture cool and strain out the solids. Reserve the syrup. Remove the orange peel from the orange pulp and cut the peel into strips. Place the strips on parchment paper to dry and toss the pulp, cardamom and vanilla beans.
- Put the syrup back on the stove in a clean pan and continue to simmer until the mixture is thick enough to solidify when cooled. To test, dip a metal spoon into the syrup and allow it to cool on the counter for a couple of minutes. If the syrup takes on a solid, jam-like texture when it cools, you have reduced enough. Take the syrup off the stove and allow to cool to room temperature before chilling in the fridge for 2 hours before constructing the chocolates.
- Melt one cup of the melting chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave, being careful not to burn it. Let the chocolate cool slightly so that it will cling to the sides of the mold when you tilt it. Spoon a small amount of chocolate into each mold cavity. Tilt the tray until the bottoms and all of the sides are thoroughly coated -- if there are any gaps, the jam may ooze out of the side. Place the tray in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the chocolates from the freezer and add enough jam to each shell to fill each mold cavity to about 2/3. Place the molds back in the freezer for another 10 minutes.
- Melt another cup of the melting chocolate and allow it to cool slightly. Remove the chocolates from the freezer and top up each mold so that it is filled to the brim. Place the molds back in the freezer for a final 20 minutes.
- For the last step -- the final coating of chocolate -- you will want to prepare a work station ahead of time, because things will move very quickly, and you don't want your chocolates to solidify before you can decorate them. Set out a cooling rack over parchment paper for the finished chocolates. Chop the orange peel slices into whatever size you'd like them to be -- you could finely chop them or cut them into thin strips, as I did. Prepare bowls with each of your toppings and place them near the cooling rack. Make sure you have two spoons on hand for rolling the chocolates in melted chocolate and removing them to the cooling rack.
- Place the last two cups of melting chocolate into a deep bowl with a narrow mouth -- you need the melted chocolate to be as deep as possible. Carefully remove the frozen chocolates from the molds and line them up for easy access on the cooling rack. Drop each chocolate into the bowl of melted chocolate one at a time and roll them thoroughly. Remove them to the drying rack and top before moving to the next chocolate.