The Orange Bar – In Progress

*You can now purchase my candy bars and marshmallows at

Orange Bar: Solera Sherry-Milk Chocolate Ganache, Candied Orange Peel, and Pecan Meringue Cookie enrobed in Dark Chocolate.

I wanted to do something a little different for this bar. I really like the combination of chocolate and orange, but it often tastes one-note, at best — or synthetic, at worst. So, I wanted to create an environment that would round out the flavor of orange within the chocolate. After some mulling over the matter, solera sherry and pecans just seemed like good ideas. They’re a little sweet, but have a complexity that comes out in their finishes; something sprightly, and just maybe hinting at caramel and an affinity for fruit. Similarly, the meringue is sweet, but the top is baked to just a light brown to give a slightly caramelized flavor and it’s sweetness is grounded by the pecans in it.

A meringue layer is fun in a candy bar. It starts off crunchy, but then dissolves in a lovely way. So, it seems like a counterpoint to the creamy ganache at first, but then it almost becomes part of the ganache for a clean finish of texture and taste; this is similar in theory to a dacquoise cake (but the meringue softens once it’s constructed in that). Although I like shortbread in the Malt Bar or Banana Bar, it wouldn’t work for this bar — the butter and flour give a flavor and texture that are very different.

The orange flavor is contributed by candied orange peel. After a lot of experimentation, I’ve found that using cream of tartar in my sugar syrup and a minimal processing time gives me the peel that I like best — a clean orange flavor with a slight bitterness and no sliminess, and in this case, the sweetness is rounded out by the other elements of the bar.

Although almost every recipe says that it very easy to candy citrus peel, I think that it’s a finicky procedure to do well and to get the results that you want… and there are many slightly different ways of doing it… Some recipes blanch up to 5 times, some recipes have you boil it hard, some have you simmer it, some recipes have you alternate heating it and letting it cool, some recipes use more corn syrup than sugar, some recipes recommend boiling it in successively denser sugar solutions, some recipes have you scrape out all of the pith. Most recipes use corn syrup, which is good to use for a sweet, soft candy peel b/c the molecules aren’t as big as glucose so they can get into the fruit better and displace water with sugar. I experimented with different liquid sugar substitutions for corn syrup, but my results were occasionally besmirched by tough peels, eventual crystallization, and either a too dry or too wet syrup. I haven’t had these problems with cream of tartar. Incidentally, I looked back at my notes from the Marmalade class that I took with wonderful June Taylor last year, and she recommended using cream of tartar because it’s not as slimy as corn syrup. I felt vindicated.

The picture above is a mini-version. Ideally, I think that the shape will be a circle with a diameter of about 3″, and relatively thin. I like that it seems kind of delicate, but is really quite sturdy, and full of flavor.

9 Responses to “The Orange Bar – In Progress”

  1. Aaron Says:

    I think this sounds great. Clearly it’s not for everyone. However, us fruitcake lovers would surely appreciate it…candied peel, alcohol. I think those flavors work great with chocolate. At my last dinner party, I served Pedro Ximenez sherry with bittersweet chocolate pot de creme, and I was literally stupified by what a great pairing that is. Does it still work with the solera and its higher alcohol content with the fino in it.
    Also, the cream of tartar thing makes sense with how you explain the corn syrup. Cream of tartar breaks the sucrose into fructose and glucose.
    Was JT’s marmalade class good? I took a conserves class and loved it…made the process (no pun intended) so accessible.

  2. Gary Says:

    Now you’re talking! Chocolate – and orange, one of my favorite combinations!

  3. Gary Says:

    I reread your description… chocolate, orange, meringue layer, bits of peel, rounding out with pecans and sherry. Yes!

  4. Gary Says:

    Speaking of chocolate and meringue, a long time ago I made a cake shown in Gourmet Magazine. The footprint was 8×3″ and it was about 4″ high – three chocolate meringues (each 8x3x1/2″). The first two meringues were each topped with about 1 1/4″ of chocolate mousse, the top covered with whipped cream, then sprinkled with chocolate shavings. The mousse was a variation on the classic – no egg yolks – just whipped whites with melted chocolate and whipped cream folded into it. It was done this way to create tiny little bits of chocolate throughout the mousse. Exquisite, though a fair amount of work making it and putting it together. And not to be made on a hot day. :*) I can imagine a version with grated orange peel and maybe a little Cointreau. Please correct me, but this concoction is a kind of Napoleon, isn’t it?

  5. Doug Says:

    I love the scientific approach you take to each candy bar.

    While I’m not a huge fan of the fruit/chocolate combo, I think this could work.
    I imagine the Pecan Meringue Cookie lightens everything up and provides the stability you alluded to.

  6. Nina Says:

    Aaron – OMG! I’m dying to take the conserve class this summer, but since the class price went up to $140 and I’d have to fly up and find lodging, I think it might be a little too much. I have a wild idea to use homemade preserves in my bars for fruit flavors (including the strawberry preserves in the peanut butter bar), but all the recipes that I see have so much sugar compared to what she uses (I bought 3 books this past week on preserves, including a couple from her list of recommended books from the marmalade class).

    I know that she says that her conserves have a soft set, but how is she able to get them to set at all without much sugar or commercial pectin? I’d really appreciate any information about it. After taking the class with her and sampling her products, I feel like I’m making an inferior product if it has too much sugar or added pectin. I also want to ask more about her method of putting the jars in the oven… some of my books talk about boiling the jars before filling and boiling again after to process… Of course, I like her simpler method better, but I’m kind of amazed that it’s that simple.

    I liked the marmalade class a lot, but it was totally my first experience preserving anything, so I was just trying to pick up on the basics…. and didn’t really understand then how different her process is from a lot of other producers — such as using a jelly bag to extract the pectin from the membranes and seeds. I went to the same class that Elise went to, and she has a great write up here —

    And thanks, as always, for the candy bar thoughts. I went to the store with the intention of buying Pedro Ximenez, but when I inspected the Lustau bottle, I liked that it was a blend of PX and Oloroso because I didn’t want it to be too sweet (esp w/ the meringue in the bar), which seems to be a common issue with PX. I like that it has more alcohol than regular wine but less than hard liquor, so I can use a fair amount of it without worrying about having too much water content in the ganache or a too astringent alcohol taste; and I can use less cream.

    And PX with chocolate pot de creme sounds like the ultimate cozy winter dessert (Sigh… or the first weekend in May 🙂 )

    Gary – Glad that this passes the test of an orange-and-chocolate fan!

    And that cake sounds great! Since the meringue didn’t have nuts like in a dacquoise cake, I was inclined to say it would be called a mousse cake or meringue cake, but I just did some searching around the web, and it seems to fit the description of a Megeve cake, which is named after a Swiss resort, where it was probably invented. A napoleon traditionally is a slice of layers of puff pastry and pastry cream/diplomat cream, but it’s often used to describe plated desserts with almost anything as the crunchy and creamy layers…but I haven’t seen one served as a whole cake or with meringue layers, so I’m going to go with Megeve.

    Doug — Thanks!

    Aw, I love fruit and chocolate together. I’m kind of proud that I snuck some into my peanut butter bar. 🙂

    And btw, guess what I bought yesterday? Sunflower seed butter from Trader Joe’s. It’s wonderful! It tastes almost like a honey roasted peanut/cashew butter at first, and then goes into a more complex nutty flavor. I’m not sure what to pair it with yet to do it justice, though… I pretty much know sunflower seeds as part of trail mix, so I thought about a crispy oat cookie and maybe some dried cranberries topped with a sunflower seed butter/chocolate mixture (like in the pb bar)…. but I’m not sure if people would really be into that without sampling it first, and I don’t want to stereotype it… I want to make it as cool as peanut butter… 🙂

  7. lucette Says:

    I’m not as excited by the idea of chocolate and orange as some, but even though it might not be my first choice, this sounds very good; especially the meringue layer. I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten anything like that in a candy bar.

  8. Nina Says:

    Thanks, Lucette! Yeah, the meringue is something that excites me in a candy bar — I think that even more could be done with it b/c it’s so versatile, but I have to experiment and brainstorm more to see just what it’s capable of.

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