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Jenni Avins
SWEET SIMPLICITY

An elegant, delicious host gift made with two ingredients in 15 minutes

By Jenni Avins

My first holiday season in New York, I lived in a single-room apartment and shared a bathroom with the other people who lived on my hallway. The apartment came furnished with a Murphy bed, a hotplate, and a bookshelf—to which I added a string of twinkle lights (there was no room for a tree). This makes it sound like Manhattan of 100 years ago, but it was only 2003, at the beginning of what I still remember as the coldest winter of my life.

I have always marked the holidays by baking cookies to bring to parties. But that year, without an oven, I found a new seasonal treat: I dipped sections of clementines into chocolate melted with cinnamon over the hotplate, and placed them on sheets of wax paper to harden. When they did, I tied the paper into bundles, and brought them to the precious few parties I attended that holiday season.

Eventually, I found a less Dickensian place with a roommate, but for those first few months I relished my strange, solitary existence in the city. Years later, I’m living in a house in Los Angeles with a considerable kitchen for cookie-baking. But I’ll still probably track down some clementines—maybe they’ll even be local—to dip in chocolate, for old time’s sake.

Recipe: chocolate-dipped clementines

Peel some clementines and divide them into sections. In a double boiler (or a mixing bowl atop a saucepan of water, or a microwave), slowly melt the chocolate of your preference. I like bittersweet, and have used chocolate bars, chips, and baking squares. Once the chocolate is liquified, you can stir in a bit of cinnamon if you like. Then, dip each clementine section into the melted chocolate, leaving the end you’re holding uncovered. Place the sections on wax or parchment paper to harden. Serve at room temperature—ideally with a Manhattan.