Buddha’s hand may be the strangest looking fruit or vegetable in the produce section at the grocery store. It is easy to see how it got its popular name: Buddha’s hand looks like a many-fingered hand or a misshapen lemon with long finger-like projections and dark ends that could be fingernails. In fact, it is a member of the citrus family and one of the fruits that are lumped together as citron. Unlike a lemon, Buddha’s hand has neither flesh nor juice, only skin and pith. It does have a wonderful fragrance, sort of a combination of lemons and flowers. With no flesh or juice, about the only options open to the cook are to use the zested skin for flavoring or the pith for more substance.
If you have ever baked or eaten the notorious Christmas fruitcake, you probably have encountered citron. It is the sugary chunks that glisten in the cake, often in alarming bright colors of yellow or green. And that seems to be the breadth of culinary options, candied. Baking a fruitcake that would sit in someone’s refrigerator uneaten for a year or more seemed like a poor use for this interesting fruit. It occurred to me that cutting a Buddha’s hand into “fingers”, candying them, and then dipping them in chocolate might be a better option and more fun.
As you can see, the end result was not as attractive as I had hoped. For one thing, the chocolate bloomed under my amateur hand. Even at that, the candied fingers tasted good, and the almost exotic lemon/floral flavor added to the richness of chocolate.
Chocolate Buddha’s Fingers
- 1 medium-sized Buddha’s hand
- 1 cup sugar
- 12 ounces mini chocolate chips
- Wash and dry the Buddha’s hand. With a sharp paring knife, cut between the individual segments of the fruit to form “fingers”.
- Place the fingers in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to the boil. Boil slowly until the white part of the fingers becomes translucent, about 20 – 30 minutes.
- Stir in the sugar and continue to boil until the liquid is reduced to a thick coating. Watch carefully so that the sugar does not burn. Transfer the sugar-coated fingers to a sheet of waxed paper to cool.
- Dry the candied fingers until the sugar coating is firm. This may take overnight.
- In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt the chocolate chips until they can be stirred to a smooth consistency. Stir in the candied fingers. When they are completely coated with chocolate, transfer them individually with tongs to a sheet of waxed paper. Cool until the chocolate is completely firm, at least 3 hours. Store in an airtight container.