Each year for Christmas, in addition to the usual collection of chewing gum, socks, chapstick, and mini shampoo bottles lifted from hotels, I can always expect to find one of those chocolate oranges at the bottom of my Christmas stocking. You know, the kind covered with foil printed to resemble orange peel, with the sticker on top, instructing you to "whack and unwrap". Once you comply, you'll find segments of chocolate, molded to resemble orange segments, knocked loose from their chocolaty axis and ready for your enjoyment.
I so want to love this candy. The whacking part, that's so much fun! Yet, this is possibly my least favorite candy on Earth, because of its texture and taste. The chocolate itself is hyper-sweet. This, compounded with its almost gritty texture, is pretty disappointing, but I haven't mentioned the worst part of all, the chemical-tasting orange flavor. It's tastes like perfume, and it's a good thing that the shape tricks the brain, because otherwise, no one could guess in a million years that they were going for orange flavor.
My desire for a better version of this treat inspired this week's pie. It's a single blind-baked flaky pie crust with a chocolate filling that has a creamy consistency that's not loose enough to be called a "pudding" but not stiff enough to be a ganache. The filling is made with high quality dark chocolate, a touch of corn syrup to prevent the sugar in the chocolate from crystallizing, a little salt for balance, and milk steeped with the zest of fresh oranges.
Just don't try stuffing one of these in the toe of your Christmas stocking.
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About the author: Lauren Weisenthal has logged many hours working in restaurant kitchens and bakeries of Brooklyn and Manhattan. She is a graduate of the Artisan Bread Baking and Pastry Arts programs at the French Culinary Institute. You can follow her on Twitter at @evillagekitchen.