Do you ever make anything from chocolate? Of course you do! It’s one of the world’s most popular flavors, and with good reason. It’s delicious. In fact, we wonder what Europeans could have possibly had for dessert before the discovery of the New World, and with it, Theobroma cacao. We figure it must have been small stones mixed with twigs (after all, remember that vanilla is also from the New World, so, no vanilla ice cream, either).
In reality, at the time, most people were probably just trying to survive, and not really thinking about desserts. Luckily for us, we have plenty of time for desserts these days.
So, if you make a chocolate dessert — pudding, cake, ice cream, mousse — any chocolate dessert, do you know an easy way to make it stand out? (If you didn’t, you probably read the title and could have guessed. Call it foreshadowing, and you’ll sound like a literary expert.) So, let’s scratch out a batch of orange peel. (This recipe comes from that reliable tome, The Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker).
Since you’ll be eating these orange peels, we must recommend using organic oranges. The variety of orange doesn’t matter too much; we used Valencia oranges. If you don’t want to use oranges, this recipe will work for about a cup of any type citrus peel.
Procedure in detail:
Slice peel. After peeling and eating your oranges, slice the peel into thin strips. We went with strips about 1/8 inch wide by an inch long. You could make them longer, shorter, wider, or thinner. Although we’d guess that you probably don’t want to go wider than 1/4 of an inch.
Boil peels. Place the peels in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer about 10 minutes. Drain, rinse, and repeat 4 more times for a total of 5 times. Each time you boil and drain, some of the bitterness in the orange peel goes down the drain, resulting in a better end product. After the last draining, press down the orange peels to remove a bit more water.
Make syrup. In the same saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Candy peels. Add the peels to the sugar, lower heat, and simmer until the syrup is absorbed and the orange peels are almost dry. This is tricky, because if you wait too long, the peels will burn and you’ll have to toss them out. Not long enough and your peels will take a long time to dry.
Dry. Remove the peels and place them to dry, separated, on a piece of baking parchment. If you wish, you can roll them in powdered sugar, but we thought that would be too much trouble. Once on the parchment, let the peels dry until they’re no longer sticky, anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. Once dry, pack in an airtight container.
Simple, huh? Sure, it takes a while, but you can do other things at the same time, as you only need to head over to the stove every 10 minutes or so to check the progress. Plus, they’re made with the peels of oranges that you’d normally throw away, so there’s no pressure for these to turn out perfectly. When they turn out, they taste just like candied orange peel. Imagine that! We give these four stars, because you do have to be present for about 2 hours total to make these.