Saturday, December 8, 2012

Candied Orange Peel

Besides the fact that you'll never look at your garbage the same way again, there's something alchemical about candied orange peel. You're basically turning something that you would otherwise throw away into golden sweet candy. If that's not alchemy I don't know what is. There's something magic and very Willie Wonka. I mean you're making candy over here. It's pure genius really. And simple and sweet and addictive and so pretty. And only 2 ingredients if you don't count water.

They're perfect for rounding out a cookie tray or wrapping up by the dozen for a twee candy box for that special someone. And also just what the Doctor ordered for midnight munchies when you're up late baking. Not to mention you could add them into other recipes as well. And if these suggestions aren't what you're looking for they keep for a couple of weeks in a dry, airtight container until you make up your mind.

candied orange peel

2 large navel oranges
1 cup water
3 cups white sugar (plus more for coating)
4-8 oz dark chocolate, melted (optional for dipping)

Cut each orange into half right across the middle. Slice each half into halves and halves again so you end up with 16 wedge shaped pieces of orange. Remove all the fruit and membrane of the orange leaving only the peel. Reserve fruit for another project or just eat it. Now, cut each wedge of peel in half again. You should end up with 32 (more or less isosceles) triangles of peel. You could cut them in half again if you wish but I chose to keep them this chunky triangle shape. 

Now, don't skip this next part because it's basically the secret behind the success of the recipe. It's the science behind the magic. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil throw in the peels, boil for about a minute, turn off the heat, drain the peels. And repeat. Twice more. That's right bring the peels to a boil in three different changes of water. I can't tell you why this works because frankly I don't know, I'm an accountant not a scientist (or an alchemist), but I'm sure it's out there somewhere if you desperately need to know. 

Once your peels are thrice boiled bring the sugar and water to a boil in a medium, heavy bottomed pot. Try not to stir it too much or you'll get sugar crystals forming on the side of the pot. Throw in your peels, lower the heat to medium and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure all the peels are getting an even coating of sugar syrup. When the peels get soft and start to look translucent they are pretty much done.  

Have a shallow dish of sugar ready. Drain the peels, reserving the sugar syrup for tea or rock candy. Coat the peels a few at a time in sugar and transfer to a drying rack. The peels will need to dry at least 24 hours or more before you can wrap, store, dip them in chocolate or use them in a recipe.

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