Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Recipe: Candied Orange Peel NOT Fruitcake

'Tis the Season for some fruitcake!
If that doesn't create a cringe worthy moment, nothing will!  Fruitcake - candied fruits baked into a brick with indistinguishable flavors - well, what is there to like about that?  But, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.... Just remember that the idea of fruitcake is worthy of merit.

And that idea is candied fruit!  Now, try for a moment to picture how tasty candied fruit can be.
Candied fruit takes the naturally moist and sweet fruits, candies them and then coats them in a sugar crust.

Some people like eating these just like this.  Others like to dip them in chocolate.  But, I think that candied fruit - candied orange peel in particular is a great flavor to add to biscotti or garnish for a rich sinful chocolate cake.

Candied orange peel can be purchased at baking supply stores and some specialty food shops.  But, they taste infinitely better when prepared at home.
There are a few things to keep in mind when candying orange peel (or lemon peel or even grapefruit peel).

1. Peel the fruit.  In this case, the orange.  Some cookbooks will tell you not to worry about removing the white pith, that the bitterness will not be affected.  I find this to be untrue.  Remove all the pith that you can!
2. Take the skin or the peel and slice it into thin strips. I prefer very thin strips, others like chunky strips.
3. Bring enough water to simmer in a pot to cover the orange peel.  So, if you have 1 cup of orange peels, fill a pot with enough water to submerge the peels.
4. Bring the water to a simmer and add the peels.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Repeat this procedure 2 more times, each time with new water.  (For tart peels - grapefruit & lemon, do this 3-4 more times).  This process leaches the bitterness out of the peels.
5.  Now, add 1 cup water to the pot. (You may double or triple this, depending on the amount of peels oyu have.  You want the peels submerged).  Add sugar to the water.  For oranges - since they are somewhat sweet, I like to add 3/4 cup sugar for every cup of water.  (For lemons and grapefruit peel it would be more like a 1:1 ratio.)
6. Simmer for 6-8 minutes.  Let cool and drain the peels.  Once they have cooled to a comfortable temperature to handle, dredge them in sugar.  This will be messy and the sugar will clump on the peel.
Allow to cool.

Since there are no preservatives in this and they are moist, they will not keep for long.
So, if you want to eat these as is- they are good for only a few days once they dry.
I have frozen these and take out as much as I need for a recipe.

Even with all the sugar, they have a "citron" flavor that I equate to.... fruitcake!  OH DEAR!

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