Orangettes – Candied Orange Peel Dipped in Chocolate
Orange and dark chocolate! A show of hands – who loves this combination? For me, it ranks up there with the best of sweet culinary marriages! I do want to warn you before we get started though that this is not something you’ll want to do if you’re in any way pressed for time; or if you’re one who shuns repetitive activities, (some prefer the word boring.) Every once in a while, some of us (with a higher tolerance for things slow) like to put on some happy music and wile away some hours playing in the kitchen with food. I had a day like that recently, and this is what came of it:
If I’d had some company, we could have danced a bit and the play would have been far more enjoyable – but then there would have been a witness to the “mistakes” that would mysteriously disappear. So, you take the good with the bad. And these are good!
Orangettes – Chocolate-dipped Candied Orange Peel
This recipe can easily be halved, and for your first batch, you may be happier doing that. But once you’ve tasted them…a whole batch will do just fine. I’ve discovered that if you can draw the process out over two days, the final result will be improved. I candy the orange peel and roll in sugar the first day and let them dry overnight. The next day, it’s all about the dipping, and the cleaning up your mistakes.
candying the oranges:
- 6 large navel oranges (always when you’re using the peel of any fruit or vegetable, it’s far better to use organic or unsprayed produce!)
- 3 cups of sugar
- 2 cups of water
- 1 cup orange juice (either store-bought or from the flesh of the oranges put through a strainer)
- for rolling:
- 1/2 up of regular granulated sugar or turbinado sugar (you decide – or choose both)
- for dipping:
- 10 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
Preparing the oranges:
I’ve found the easiest way of preparing the peels is to first score the orange, about 6 or 7 times, from top to bottom, cutting just down to the flesh of the orange. Then, using your thumb, peel each of those sections off. Using a sharp paring knife, slice each section into lengthwise strips approximately 1/4-inch wide. Because the pith is where the bitter resides, I like to remove just a bit of that from each peel as well. (See photo below.) But you don’t want to end up with ONLY the thin rind because then there’s less remaining to be candied and the resulting orangette isn’t quite as soft and delicate.
Side note: What I then do is take the oranges stripped of their peelings, and standing them up on end, I take a knife and remove all the white pith from the flesh. Then, holding the orange in my hand, I run the knife alongside each membrane and release the segments and their juice into a bowl, reserving them for another use. I’ll soon share a salad recipe using these, but I’m sure you can think of other uses.
Blanching the peels:
(You’ll do this a total of three times in order to remove the bitterness from the peels.) Drop the orange peels into a medium pot of boiling water and blanch them for two minutes. Then, empty the pan’s contents into a colander. Return the pot, filled with fresh water, to a boil; add the orange peels, and again blanch for two minutes. Drain and repeat one more time.
In a medium sauce pan, bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup orange juice to a boil. Add 3 cups of sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the orange peels and simmer, uncovered, on low heat for about an hour or so.
Drain the peels and roll them in sugar – either turbinado, which puts a coating of bigger shiny crystals on peels, or regular granulated sugar for a softer, snowier look. (What I find helpful in this rolling process is to fill the bottom of a pie plate with sugar. Then taking maybe ten or so peels at a time, I drop them into the pie plate and shake the plate around until they’re coated. It seems to go a bit faster for me that way, and is a bit less messy.) At this point, I suggest you put the sugared peels on a rack to dry overnight. Dry peels will hold onto the chocolate better.
The following day, lay parchment paper or wax paper over a couple cookie sheets or over your counter. Melt your chocolate in the top of a double boiler and dip each peel into the chocolate, coating each piece about half or two-thirds of the way. Lay them out on your papered surface to cool. If you then put them into a covered jar in your refrigerator once they’re cool, they’ll keep for at least a couple weeks. Return them to room temperature for serving.) These are lovely served alongside a small bowl of ice-cream or citrusy sorbet. And they make a beautiful gift in a pretty little jar.
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