Candied orange peel

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I promised you a citrus recipe, so here it is. It’s probably not what you were expecting. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting either, but you might see that here sometime this month too–it just depends on my schedule and how much room there is in the fridge.

The story of my journey to make candied orange peel: I am a big fan of the public library. I go to it at least once a month, and more often than not, I end up in the cookbook section. There are so many cookbooks there, even more cookbooks than at a bookstore! The Dewey decimal system for cookbooks is pretty odd, though; I haven’t yet figured it out, but I’m certain that there are sections for regional cooking, desserts, baking, cookies, grilling and vegetarian recipes, among others. I never know where the sections are until I start seeing titles like The Cake Bible, Cakes for Dummies and riffs on that huddled together. It’s pretty easy to deduce what the section is once you’re staring at it, though.candiedorange5

I recently found myself at the beginning of the cookbook section, scanning titles with my neck crooked over to the left, and I zoomed in on David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life in Paris. Grabbed that, added it to the stack, kept moving along. (That was in the “literature about food” part of the section, which includes books like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and The Omnivore’s Dilemma.) I shuffled down some more aisles, eyes furiously scanning left to right, stacking more books in my arms. Finally, at the baking section, I spied another Lebovitz cookbook, Ready for Dessert, and from reading his blog, I knew that I needed to check it out. So I did, and now, after reading and relating to The Sweet Life in Paris as well as devouring Ready for Dessert, I want to make everything. Seriously–everything in Ready for Dessert is so tempting I need to buy a copy because I know the library will want their copy back too soon.

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Candied orange peel is the first thing I’ve made from Ready for Dessert, and it is perfect because I’ve been stocking up on oranges every week. I had a plan to save peels for a week and then candy it, but that didn’t work out; some of the flesh was left on a peel, and it created a small amount of mold on several peels. So be forewarned–you can save peels for a couple of days, but make sure there isn’t any flesh left on them, and only start the stockpile two days before you plan on candying them. Or you can always peel oranges specially to candy the peel and save the insides breakfast or lunch. Either way, you get double duty from the fruit, and the candied peels are a burst of chewy, sweet, slightly-bitter brightness.

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Candied orange peel
from Ready for Dessert
five-stars

Notes: I halved the recipe. Half of the recipe makes quite a bit candied orange peel, two to three cups, so that’s how I will share the recipe. If you happen to have a plethora of peel, go ahead and double it to make the whole recipe. It’s delicious– you won’t have trouble finding ways to sneak a bit every day.

If your orange peels have been cut in pieces (rather than only halved), be sure that the pieces are no smaller than the peel leftover from an orange that has been cut in sixths. (Sorry if that if confusing. If you have any questions, just let me know.)

David Lebovitz says that the bit of corn syrup stops the candied peel from becoming grainy. Corn syrup is used all the time in candy making.

Organic oranges are preferred since your in it for the outside of the fruit.

 

the peel of 5 oranges, preferably cut into 6 wedges per orange
water
2 ¼ cups sugar plus ¾ cup for coating the strips of peel
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

 

1. Put the peels in a large (3 or 4 quart) saucepan. Fill with enough water to cover the peels (which will float), and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the peels are tender, about 20 minutes. To test doneness, remove a piece of peel from the pot, let it cool for a few minutes, and then scrape the pith with a spoon; if it scrapes away easily, it is ready.

2. Drain the rinds and rinse in cold water. Using a spoon, scrape away the white pith from each peel. Cut the rinds into ¼ inch strips.

3. Combine 1 ½ cups water, 2 ¼ cups sugar and corn syrup in a large saucepan with a candy thermometer attached. Bring to a boil, and then add the orange peel strips. Cook over medium to medium-high heat (I recommend medium with a gas stove and medium high with electric), stirring occasionally with a heatproof spatula, until the temperature registers 225F and the peels are translucent.

4. Strain the candied peel from the syrup, and toss it with the spatula to make sure as much as the syrup as possible has drained off. Lay the candied peel on a wire rack set over a jelly roll pan for 2-3 hours to dry.

5. Spread ¾ cup sugar in another jelly roll pan (or something similar with plenty of area to use). Add the peel strips in batches, and toss to coat with sugar. Shake off excess sugar, and replace the strips back onto the wire rack to dry overnight at room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to six months.

 

Variation:

I chose to dip half of my candied orange peel in chocolate. If you want to do this, at the end of step 4, dry the peels overnight or for 8 to 10 hours. After that time,  melt eight ounces of dark/bittersweet/semisweet chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Temper it if you’d like. Drop several peel strips in the chocolate at once, and pick up with your fingers, shaking off excess chocolate. Place on parchment paper set into a jelly roll pan, and let dry until the chocolate is set, about an hour. Store in an airtight container (in the fridge if you didn’t temper the chocolate.) (PS They are not really picture-worthy. I took some, but they aren’t attractive so I don’t want to share them.)

If you want to candy some peel and dip some in chocolate (about half and half), only use 3-4 tablespoons of sugar in step 5 to coat the peels.

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