The Glamorous Slice / by Anne

orange.peel.cherry.IICandied orange peels are suitable for the sophisticated soul.  Having been rolled in sugar, they are obviously sweet, but they possess a mild kick as well, likely from the lingering oils that have mostly been blanched and soaked out.  These confections aren’t bitter, though.  Just pleasantly bracing, like a 1940's slap after a presumptuous kiss. These confections are as versatile as they are glamorous.  You can serve one alongside a cup of espresso, or in a cocktail, or even with fresh, juicy fruit.  They make a sparkling surprise perched on dainty baked goods, dipped in melted chocolate, or waiting in the freezer for a little after-dinner palate cleanser.  The possibilities thrill me as I sit here at my desk and eat them, one by one, biting through a thin sugar crust into sweet, almost nostalgic soft centers .

I’m not actually feeling very sophisticated tonight, though.  It’s hard to feel that way when you’re sitting in your sweats surrounded by mountains of boxes that you’ve been packing for a week. Our whole kitchen lies here in boxes, actually.  This is the eve of remodeling the kitchen, so I’m sharing my desk with a tower of plates, a  big box of kosher salt, and my overflowing basket of mail from the living room (we had to make space in the living room for a temporary “kitchen.”) I’m thrilled, though. We will be removing some claustrophobic walls and creating a more user-friendly layout.  Who knows what kind of trouble we can get into with a sink that faces out into the world (and that faucet has a sprayer, just screaming for a water fight.  Don’t tell Rosalie; she’ll figure it out eventually). 

At any rate, this last week I have had a last hurrah in the old kitchen.  There are several recipes I can’t wait to share with you—candied orange peel is one of them.  Sophistication was especially welcome around here when the preparation was easy and quick. Please note, however, that the drying time takes a couple of days.

Candied Orange Peel

  • 2 oranges
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 ½  cups sugar

Directions

  1. With a knife, cut the two ends off the oranges.  Score the skins into fourths and peel the skins off, pith and all. 
  2. Remove extra stringy parts from the pith, but do not remove the pith itself from the peel.
  3. Slice the peels into thin slices – ¼ inch or less.  You can slice them long and lean or short and curvy, depending on your needs and the direction you cut.
  4. Blanch orange peel strips in a medium to large pot of boiling water for about 15-20 minutes, then drain.  Rinse thoroughly, then drain again.  Fill the pot with cold water, and either repeat the blanching process or let the orange peel sit for a few hours in the water while you do other things in the kitchen, changing the water once or twice.   Your goal is to remove the bitterness from the peel. Taste one to test for a pleasing reduction in bitterness.
  5. When orange strips are properly blanched and soaked, bring three cups each of sugar and water to boil for a few minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Add the orange strips, return sugar-water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer the peels for 45 minutes, or until nice and soft.  Drain to remove excess liquid.
  6. Pour remaining half-cup of sugar into a shallow bowl or a plate.  Roll orange peels in the sugar, and arrange in a single layer on a foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Allow peels to dry for one to two days.  Best to store peels in a well-ventilated place for quick drying.  Best also to store in a place where they won’t be in danger of enthusiastic tasting and testing—to the point of disappearing.