Even if you thought you didn't like candied orange peel, wait till you try this one.
This is not your grandmother's candied fruit.
Last year I bought some candied orange peel to use in a Pastiera, an Italian Easter dessert that I'll be posting in the next couple of days. This year I came across a terrific post on "Use Real Butter," that outlined how to make the confection, so I thought I'd give it a try. It wasn't really that difficult and it is so superior to anything you can buy. I'll never go back to store bought candied orange peel again and I'll bet you won't either.
Dip these strips into chocolate and you've got a first-class gift that will really impress your friends.
Here's what you'll need:
peels of 3 - 4 large oranges (leave the white pith attached)
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
Cut the oranges in half and squeeze out all the juice. Scrape out all the pulp, but leave the white pith. I use a grapefruit spoon and it works great. Every recipe that calls for orange rind always says to remove the pith because it's bitter - and it is. But for this recipe, if you don't leave the pith, you'll end up with a puny peel after all the sugaring. In order to counter the bitter taste, you need to boil the peels first. I boiled mine four times as you'll see below.
Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the orange halves into strips.
Place the strips in a large pot and cover with cold water. Let the water come to a boil and cook for five minutes. Drain. Repeat three more times.
Cook sugar and water and cook at high heat until temperature reaches 230 degrees. Add peels and lower temperature to a simmer. Cook until peels are translucent. It may take as little as 1/2 hour or as long as an hour and a half, depending on your altitude. Remove peels and drain on metal cake racks. They will be sticky so work quickly. If not dipping in chocolate, you may want to roll in sugar to make them even more crystalline-like, however I omitted this step. Even without the extra sugar, they tasted plenty sweet and looked great.
Let the orange strips dry. It took at least two days for mine to dry thoroughly enough since it's been rainy and humid here the last couple of days. Depending on the weather when you make these, it could take less or more time.
Dip into tempered chocolate and place on waxed paper or parchment paper until dry.
To temper chocolate, start with a good quality chocolate. There's no point in going to all this trouble and using a mediocre product. Chop up the chocolate into small pieces. Over a double boiler, place 2/3rds of the chocolate in a pan, being careful not to let any water or steam enter the pan containing the chocolate. Heat the chocolate until it reaches 115 degrees for dark chocolate or 110 degrees for milk or white chocolate. I use an instant read thermometer, the kind you'd use for a roast. But there are also special thermometers especially for chocolate if you want to spring for that. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rest of the chocolate, which will lower the temperature of the chocolate to about 84 degrees or so after a couple of minutes. Next, place the pan briefly over the double boiler and let the temperature increase to about 87 degrees for milk and white chocolate or 89-89 degrees for dark chocolate. This should only take five to 10 seconds. Don't let the temperature rise above 91 degrees. The chocolate is now tempered and ready to use. Try to keep it over warm (but not simmering) water so it stays the right consistency while you are dipping, or place the pan on an electric heating pad set to "low."