I'm a huge fan of edible, homemade holiday gifts. Whether you have many family and friends with whom you are exchanging gifts or just a few, there is nothing like a lovely batch of homemade delights to show how much you care about the recipients. Candied citrus peel is among the simplest, least expensive, and most beautiful such gifts.
Like candied ginger, all candied orange (or any other citrus) peels require, besides the fruit peel, is a bit of patience, a heavy pot, a cooling rack or large pan or wax paper, a few utensils, sugar, water, and tiny amount of cream of tartar or corn syrup.
Fair warning -- once you taste these, you may need to make extra to keep at home for your own snacking and an impressive end to your own dinner parties.
There are two ways to make candied citrus peel -- keeping the pith (the white insides of the fruit) on or taking it off. If you leave the pith on, the peel is thicker and will stand up as in the picture below. With pith off, as in the lemon rind for limoncello, the peel is thin and stays rather pliable. The pith is bitter unless you boil it several times, so "pith on" candied citrus peel takes a bit longer to make than the thinner type.
I tried both ways for orange peels; I like the thinner type for baking and prefer the thicker peels for candy.
The basic technique for making candied citrus peel is to cut the peel off the fruit, boil it at least twice, drain and cook it in a sugar and water "simple" syrup, then drain and dry the peel before rolling it in sugar. Although you'll find variations in the number of times to boil the peel, the amount of time for boiling, the proportions for the simple syrup, and the required drying time for the peels after cooking, the fundamentals stay the same.
For these candied orange peels, I used the simple syrup proportions from a Lisa Yockelson recipe I had clipped out of a paper ages ago with my own timing on the boiling and drying.
Orange and chocolate is a divine combination. You can simply melt bar chocolate and dip the partially dried orange peels, as I did. However, without tempering the chocolate (a rather exacting process involving heating chocolate to a precise temperature, lowering the temperature and then raising it slightly), the peels don't keep their shine after drying. They still taste great though, and taste the same as if the chocolate had been tempered.
- 4 navel oranges, with skin as thick as possible
- 2 - 2½ cups granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (to keep the simple syrup from crystallizing)
- Cutting board
- Large, heavy pot with lid
- Colander or strainer
- Large spoon
- Tongs or a large fork
- 2 large cookie sheets or cooling racks or wax paper
- Bowl or plastic container (lid optional - see directions about sugar coating the peels)
Preparation For step-by-step directions, including photographs, click here.