Unfussy Fare

Chocolate-Dipped Candied Orange Peel

orangette04

Chocolate-dipped candied orange peel (also known as orangettes) are a lovely holiday confection. And this post is actually one big public service announcement.  I made all kinds of mistakes, so you don’t have to.  See how virtuous I am?

I’m afraid orangettes are fussy fare. I’m willing to make exceptions to my unfussy mandate in the interest of holiday cheer.

Last week, when I first developed a hankering for candied citrus peel, I scoured the web for recipes. They varied wildly from one another. I, of course, chose the quickest one. The one that didn’t entail blanching and re-blanching strips of peel before boiling them in sugar-water. What I got was a very pretty and very bitter batch of candied peel. Even coated in sugar, the bitterness lingered waaay too long. I love bitter, so believe me when I tell you it was too much.

Next I opted to make orangettes, figuring that the chocolate would counteract the bitterness in the orange peel. I also decided to blanch the peels three times, as several recipes recommend.  However, because I am impatient, I only let them boil for about five minutes each time. The recipes I read called for 10 or 15 minutes of boiling each time. The results are what you see pictured here. They were plenty tasty enough to eat, but still too bitter. I am a frantic hare who should really take a page from the tortoise’s book.

Bottom line, I learned some things that will inform my next batch, which I am confident will be perfect. The first thing I learned is that some instructions merit following. Oh wait, I already knew that. I just haven’t figured out how to discern which instructions merit following. So really, the first thing I learned is that I love The Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer.

I had relegated The Joy of Cooking to my seldom-used pile of cookbooks. I thought it was dated, and not really my style. But upon closer inspection, it’s absolutely my style. The instructions are loose. I like that in a cookbook. Plus, there are recipes for cooking bear, woodchuck, and muskrat, which bespeaks a certain fearlessness in Irma. I admire that. But the main thing I like about The Joy of Cooking is that Irma validated my hunch that salt could effectively tame the bitterness of citrus peel.

You know how I’m hopelessly in love with preserved lemons, right? They are proof positive that salt removes bitterness from citrus peel. I wondered if a variation on that method could be applied here, without ending up with overly-salty candy. Irma Rombauer said yes. (I knew I liked her.)

The recipe below reflects my lessons learned. While I haven’t tried it yet, I feel confident enough to recommend it. I’m determined that I will not be defeated by candied citrus peel. Not after all the time I’ve spent making pretty, bitter little candies. I’ll keep you posted. Or better yet, you can keep me posted.

orangettes01

ORANGETTES

Four medium oranges (look for ones with thin peels)
salt
2 cups sugar
4 ounces good bittersweet chocolate

Cut the top and bottom ends off the oranges. Cut the peel off the oranges in six sections, as close to peel edge as possible.

Cut peel sections in half lengthwise, so you can flatten them more easily, and remove as much pith as you can with a paring knife. Some pith will remain. Don’t worry about it.

Cut peel sections lengthwise into quarter-inch wide strips, as evenly as possible.

Place the peels in a non-reactive bowl with enough salt water to cover. (One teaspoon salt per cup of water.) Soak for at least 24 hours. Drain, rinse, and soak peel in fresh water for 20 minutes. Drain again.

Boil peel in fresh water for 20 minutes and drain again.

Mix two cups of sugar with two cups of water in a medium saucepan. Stir. Add peel. Bring to a boil, reduce heat until the mixture is just simmering. Simmer for 45 minutes.

Remove peels from syrup a few at a time using a fork, and put them on a rack to drip dry. (Put something under the rack to catch the drips.) Allow them to dry completely. (Overnight worked for me.)

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. (I use a metal bowl set on a saucepan of simmering water.)

Dip peel strips into melted chocolate. Place on parchment paper or wax paper to dry.

If you don’t want the chocolate, you can just roll the peels in powdered or granulated sugar instead.

orangette03orangettes02

20 Responses to “Chocolate-Dipped Candied Orange Peel”

  1. Pamela Perry says:

    You, my dear, are unstoppable!

  2. Gillian says:

    And I have the waistline to prove it :)

  3. Orangettes huh? I can’t believe I never heard of these before. I love candied citrus peel so this is just my thing.

  4. Gillian says:

    So Wizzy, have you candied citrus peel? Did you salt it first?

  5. natalie says:

    Yummy! One of my most memorable candies from childhood. Definately going to give this a try for Christmas. I’m also going to try my hand at your lemon preserves.
    Lovely Blog. Found you through Tastespotting, as you might have guessed :-)

    P.S. I love Irma too!

  6. hungry dog says:

    Lovely photos! I wish I liked fruit and chocolate together, I would love to love these.

  7. Gillian says:

    Natalie: Thank you! Yes, Tastespotting has been good to my little blog, if a little hard on my self esteem with the frequent rejections. Glad to hear there’s another Irma fan. There are so many fascinating recipes in that book. Who knew? Maybe just the millions upon on millions of people who bought the book over the years…

    Hungry: No fruit and chocolate? Fascinating! Even raspberries? How about nuts and chocolate?

  8. Ashley says:

    Great idea with the salt! Much better than blanching 3-5 times. I just tried this recipe and the only change I made was adding a little lemon juice to the syrup while simmering to keep the sugar from crystallizing. They turned out great when dipped in dark chocolate, but still too bitter for me to just eat rolled in sugar.

  9. Authman says:

    Excellent — will be trying this one shortly ^_^

    :3

  10. Gillian says:

    Thanks Authman and Ashley: Stay tuned. I am making these yet a third time later this week, and I hope to fine-tune my technique even further. I’ll report back.

  11. kate says:

    I am making these right now! What fun. I am so tired of pasty, christmas cookies…this will be a refreshing taste. I just finished de-pithing the peels, so now they are pithed off. :-)

  12. Lori says:

    Oh Kate :) I too am in the middle of boiling away, can’t wait for a more unique twist on the sweets to serve the family. These were actually my husband’s favorite when he was just a boy.

  13. Gillian says:

    Pithed off! Why didn’t I think of that? I hope these turn out for you, Kate and Lori. I could eat about a pound of them. I did eat about a pound of them.

  14. kate says:

    Question: Today I will be ready to dip the orange in melted chocolate. Does the chocolate get that chalky finish when it hardens like chocolate sometimes does? Did you add any heavy cream to the chocolate to prevent that?

    Lori? How did it go?

  15. Gillian says:

    Hi Kate: I used straight melted Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate, and it did not get the chalky finish. Enjoy!

  16. Kate says:

    First confession of 2010: I made orangettes for my mother, who is the most awesome person on the planet. I made the perfectly, wrapped them with gold paper and a beautiful red bow and put them on the counter to wait for delivery. After two days of staring at that package, I ripped off the bow, tore open the paper and ate every last one. Urp…Merry Christmas Mom!

  17. bella says:

    While i think you have the idea I dont think these came out just right they do look like they crystallized a little I recomend using less sugar and some corn syrup in it’s place with the water they come out chey and sweet.. But thats just my opinioun thatks

  18. Florentina says:

    These look beautiful! I made some candied orange peels myself today and will dip some in chocolate tomorrow .

  19. valerie says:

    love love love your writing style…i’ll have to give the joy of cooking a read…..as i have always felt that a recipe was always just the beginning of a dish….but your right sometime you have to follow the rules a little more to the letter……i’ll give this orange peel dipped in chocolate a shot as this morning it was just what i was looking for…….thanks for doing the work for us….smile and keep cooking

  20. [...] Image above & recipe below courtesy of unfussy fare: [...]

Leave a Reply