This may be the healthiest dessert recipe that I’ve ever come up with.
I mean, don’t get me wrong – this still isn’t healthy like a salad, smoothie or a bowl of oatmeal. It’s not a healthy recipe.
But for someone who considers herself Queen of Cupcakes (and other baked goodies), this is certainly the healthiest dessert to ever come out of my kitchen. And hell, if you leave out the candied orange and pecan praline, this thing is so close to angelic that it might as well sprout a set of wings!
While I have very little time for those horrid little Jaffa candies, there is something about the combination of a good dark chocolate and real oranges that I just can’t get past. The intensity and richness of a decent dark chocolate (and I’m talking something around the 70% cocoa solids mark) combined with the fragrance and acidity of an orange is truly one of those winning combinations proven by the passage of time.
So the challenge to myself was whether I could take those two classic flavours and pair them together in a new way, using a different ingredient to bring them together. I knew that you could make a healthier chocolate ganache using yoghurt rather than cream, so what if I could use that as a base and starting point?
The chocolate and orange yoghurt came together beautifully, but the recipe lacked a little something. I mean, I wanted a dessert that I could serve at a dinner party that would impress my guests with decadence as well as natural goodness. After adding the pecan praline for crunch and the candied orange slice for beauty, I’d say I pulled it off – wouldn’t you?
Chocolate Orange Yoghurt Pots with Pecan Praline
This dish is best prepared at least 12 hours before serving, to give the yoghurt time to infuse with the flavours of the orange zest.
400 grams low-fat natural Greek yoghurt
60 grams dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70% dark chocolate)
1 tbsp honey
1 cup caster sugar
2 cups water
130 grams pecan halves
1.5 cups water
1.5 cups caster sugar
1. Melt the chocolate over a bain-marie, then immediately add 200 grams of the yoghurt. If it becomes too solid, stick it back over a bowl of hot water and stir till evenly combined. Set aside for now.
2. Make sure that you wash and scrub both oranges to remove any wax from the skin, then zest one orange, and thinly slice the other into slices no more than about 6mm thick. Take the zest and mix it into the remaining 200 grams of yoghurt. Cut up the zested orange and snack on it throughout the rest of the cooking process
3. Add the 1 tbsp of honey to the yoghurt and briskly mix to ensure it is well combined and taste – IF you have a strong sweet tooth then you may need to add one more, but I found that 1 tbsp was enough for this much yoghurt. Cover the tops of both yoghurt bowls with cling film and place in the fridge for at least an hour (but better if overnight) to allow the flavours to fully infuse.
4. Place 1 cup of caster sugar in a small pot along with the 2 cups of water and the orange slices. Keep this at a low simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, making sure you turn the slices every 10 minutes or so to prevent the tops from drying out. You will know when these are candied when the rinds are soft and translucent.
5. In another pot, place the 1.5 cups of water and caster sugar and simmer till the sugar is completely dissolved, making sure to continuously brush down the sides of the pot to prevent sugar crystals from forming (as this will possibly cause the entire pot of sugar syrup to crystallize). Keep the syrup simmering till it reaches “soft crack” stage (approx 135 degrees C, or till a drop placed in a glass of cold water forms a firm ball that isn’t too sticky but still can be squished). Pour in the pecans and stir to coat them, then make sure to drain as much excess sugar syrup as possible and place them one by one on a sheet of non-stick baking paper to cool and dry completely.
6. Drain and place the orange slices on a separate sheet of non-stick baking paper till needed, and once the nuts are cooled, chop as many as you need for 2 x cups (this recipe makes MUCH more than needed, but the remainder can be snacked on or reserved in the pantry for up to a week in an airtight container and used to top plain yoghurt, ice cream, or even an iced cake!).
The leftover candied orange slices can be double-wrapped in cling film and frozen for up to a month, or you can chop it up and fold it into yoghurt or cream to add a sweet and citrussy touch. Even the leftover orange-flavoured sugar syrup from the orange slices can even be reserved for a few weeks to be brushed over an orange cake if you feel like it!
7. To serve – pull the yoghurt out of the fridge and briskly whisk the chocolate yoghurt to loosen it up again. Divide it between two glasses, then add a layer of chopped pecans. Divide the orange yoghurt in half, then place in the cups on top of the chocolate and nuts, and top with another layer of pecan praline.
Add the candied orange slice just before serving, and watch your guests marvel at a super decadent dessert that is much healthier than anyone will suspect!