Thursday, December 3, 2009
I used this recipe from about.com as a guide in preparing the peels. The others that I found on the internet suggested boiling the rinds in plain water several times before candying them. Since I don’t mind a little bitterness in my life – and because the fruit cake was a big enough project without adding homemade candied citrus peel to its to-do list – I wanted to select a recipe that would be as short and simple as possible. However, if you don't like bitter flavors, you can reduce them by boiling the citrus peels in plain water for half an hour from one to three times before adding them to the sugar slurry that will candy them.
I used a slightly higher sugar/water ratio than they call for and added some triple sec to the slurry to give the citrus flavor a little extra oomph. I also threw in a little salt, because I’m totally on the salt-in-desserts bandwagon. Otherwise, I made this more or less as instructed.
Peeling the citrus is rather time consuming, especially if you’re as particular as I am about cutting down to just the right amount of pith and peel. However, it’s a soothing kind of task. Once you get into the dicing and peeling, you can kind of let your mind go while your fingers do the work.
I didn’t mean for that to sound quite so dirty.
Candied Citrus Peel
3 1/2 cups water
3 cups sugar, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons triple sec
¼ teaspoon salt
Chop the tops and bottoms off the fruit and cut into quarters or eighths, depending on the size. Peel carefully, trying to keep the peels intact as much as possible. Set the peeled citrus aside and reserve for another use. I like to snack on it as I peel.
Using a sharp knife, cut away about half of the white pith from the underside of the peels. The remaining peel should be approximately 1/8” thick. Slice the peels into long, thin strips approximately ½” wide.
Combine water, sugar, triple sec, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, and heat, uncovered, until the sugar boils for 5 minutes.
Add the strips of peel and turn the heat down to low, until the mixture is just at a simmer. Cook, uncovered and simmering, for approximately two hours.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool. Once cool, drain the peels in a colander. At this point, turn your oven to 200 degrees. Place about one cup of sugar in a small bowl. Dredge the peels in the sugar until they are coated, and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Add more sugar if necessary.
Place the sugar-coated peels in the warm oven and allow them to dry out. This only took about half an hour in my oven, but it may take up to an hour. Stir them around occasionally to make sure they aren’t browning. Instead of finishing them in the oven, you can also leave them out overnight if you live somewhere cool and dry.
Once peels are completely dry, scrape off any excess sugar clumps. Store them in a dry location and they should keep for weeks. Candied peels can be dipped in melted chocolate and enjoyed plain, or used in cake, cookie, candy, or bread recipes.
Printable recipe here.