There is something in this combination of the decadent atmosphere of a Turkish Souk and a candle-lit, complete-reading of Ali-Baba and the Forty Thieves about the thought of the best dark chocolate blended into the strongest flavoured Seville marmalade. I consider that the flavour of dark chocolate and Seville orange essential oils is one of the most sensual combinations. They go so well together and uniquely so.
The puritans among you might baulk at chocolate with breakfast. But a chocolate lover might not! However, the best dark chocolate melded with the bitter-sweet essential oils of Seville orange is neither chocolate nor marmalade: it is something else instead. And very delicious too.
Dark Chocolate Seville Marmalade
1. Wash the oranges, take out the stalks, and cut them in halves around the equator.
2. Juice the oranges and lemons, removing all the pips. Sieve the juice into a jug and retain the pips.
3 Slice the orange peel. Place two halves of orange on top of each other, hold them firmly, and with a sharp knife slice them about ¼ cm thick. You can also slice the lemon skins if you wish. (The peel can be cut thinner if you like, but don’t be tempted to slice it in a food processor or you are more likely to have a mushy result)
4. Put the sliced oranges and lemons into a large lidded saucepan with 500mls of the water. Cover and simmer gently for 60 minutes to soften the peel. Stir often. When ready, the pith will become more translucent and the peel will easily squash between finger and thumb. Turn off the heat.
5. While the peel is simmering, put the pips in a small saucepan with 250mls of water and simmer for 5 minutes.
6. When the peel is soft, add the juice and the sugar then stir until dissolved. Strain the pectin rich liquid into the marmalade and discard the pips.
7. Put the pan back on the heat, and stirring, slowly bring to the boil. Stir often to stop the marmalade sticking and keep on a slow boil. If a scum forms, lightly scoop it off the surface.
8. Place a saucer or two in the fridge ready to test for setting point. Also place the washed jars (but not the lids) in a medium oven (about 100 C) to sterilise them and heat them so they don’t break when the hot marmalade is poured in.
9. Stir the Marmalade and keep it on the heat until a rolling boil is reached (about for 30-40 minutes) and setting point will be near.
10. To test for setting point, put ½ teaspoon of the marmalade on the cold saucer in a small 50p-sized circle. Put back in the fridge for 30 seconds to cool, then take out, hold up to the light and push your finger through the jam to see if it wrinkles. If it does, it’s ready. If it doesn’t, try again after 1 or 2 minutes.
11. When setting point is reached, turn off the heat and leave for 10-15 min to allow the peel to distribute evenly through the marmalade. (If you bottle it too quickly, the peel is likely to float to the top of the jars). Remove the jars from the oven.
12. Break the chocolate into squares. Place in bowl over simmering water bath until melted. Remove bowl from heat.
13. Fill four 1 llb (454g) jars to within 2-3 cm of the top of the jar. Divide the 100g melted chocolate between the four jars of marmalade. Stir chocolate gently to evenly distribute it. Apply lids and tighten gently.
14. Pour the remaining marmalade into the remaining jars. Immediately put on and tighten the lids gently. Now carefully check lids are on jars correctly and tighten firmly. Wipe off any drips when jars are still warm. Leave the jars to cool before you label. Label all jars before you forget to.
Notes on the Setting Point
Beginners often end up with jam that either is set like heavy clay, or is as runny as before any boiling. To set into a soft gel, the jam requires acidity, sugar, and pectin at the right temperature. Marmalade making has enough of all three ingredients and the cooking delivers the right temperature. The trick is to boil it enough to raise the temperature to 103-105C, when the sugar content is about 60-65%, but to do so quickly before both the flavour and the essential pectin are damaged.
It is more sensitive to use the wrinkle test than the thermometer. The setting point is just that: a ‘point’. Heat for too long at or beyond setting point and the gel will be damaged. You produce a thick mass not the lovely, light gel. The temperature changes slowly towards the 1050C and you may be watching the temperature for a long while before deciding it was at the right point. Heating for too long after setting point will damage the texture and the flavour.
There is no harm in testing for setting point too early. The marmalade on the plate will be just a patch of syrup. But you will know exactly when the setting point is reached with the first sign of wrinkling. Repeat the test once or twice more until you get a clear wrinkling that remains after your finger has pushed through the patch.
Interestingly, the gelling process continues as the jam cools in the jars and even over the first few weeks of storage. This is why it is best to stop boiling AS SOON AS you detect clear wrinkling, knowing that the jam will ease itself into an impressively delicious gel. Boil for too long after setting point and the result is a heavy, stiff set.
Making excellent marmalade is an art. The art is in the setting point as much as in preserving the flavours.