Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Holiday Fruit Chocolates

During World War I men, women and children across the nation were urged to “save sugar for a soldier.” Sugar was one of the four commodities under short supply. Most of the cane sugar was imported and ships were needed to transport troops, not sugar.

But life could still be sweet. Clever homemakers made good use of nature’s own sweetness and combined dried fruits with honey to make a filling for hand-dipped chocolates as rich and delicious as the sweetest chocolate ganache or creamy fondant.

Make these delicious chocolates for Easter baskets, Christmas gifts, your best Valentine, or any other holiday treat. The honey, orange zest, and juice combine with sophisticated mix of dried fruits enhanced by easy to melt semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips. If you don’t tell, no one will know these might even be almost healthy.

Holiday Fruit Chocolates
1 12-ounce package raisins
1/4 cup water
1 8-ounce package dates -- either chopped or pitted and cut then in quarters
2/3 cup figs -- cut off stem and then cut each into 6 to 8 pieces
1 cup chopped walnuts
grated rind half an orange
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon salt, optional
dipping chocolate such as melted dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine raisins with water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and heat on high for a minute. Let stand until cool. Drain off any remaining water. Put raisins, chopped dates, figs, and nuts into a food processor and pulse until finely processed, but not mush. Add orange rind and juice along with honey. Pulse until just blended. Put mixture into refrigerator until firm. Form into balls, about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Melt chocolate chips in microwave for one minute on high. Stir and if not completely melted, continue to heat in 10-second increments stirring in between each time. Drop fruit candy center into chocolate, stir with a fork and then lift out to drain. Place on plate for chocolate to harden. Store finished candies in the refrigerator.

No need to make all the candies at once. Filling keeps for weeks sealed in a freezer-style zipper bag in the refrigerator. Just pull some out, roll, and dip when you need a special treat.