When my neighbor Linda shared some chocolate covered orange peel with me a few days ago, it reminded me of a recipe I had not used in quite some time that I found in a cookbook from 1887 called The Hearthstone; or Life at Home, A Household Manual, written by Laura Halloway. Any confection like this takes some effort, but the result is lovely, and it makes a pleasing gift if you don’t end up eating it all yourself.
The best oranges are the thin-skinned Florida oranges sometimes sold as juice oranges. Thick skins from navel oranges are too brittle and besides, the white is bitter and has to be scraped off. Better to start with oranges that don’t have much white to begin with. The process of boiling and re-boiling creates a sweet peel.
A few hints: If you use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the peel into strips, you’ll find it goes quickly and easily. Strain the orange juice before adding sugar to it for the candying stage. Eat the pulp left behind.
I usually roll the peel in granulated sugar after cooking it in sugar syrup, a process which helps it dry without sticking to its neighbors. I love orange and chocolate together, and often dip my candied peel in a ganache of chocolate bits melted with a little cream. Lay the peel out on parchment or waxed paper to cool and firm up.
Stay in the kitchen with it until you stash it away, or else make it when you are home alone; otherwise, it might mysteriously evaporate before you intend it to.
The recipe below is for one orange. Merely multiply it for as many oranges as you want to process.
P.S. The theme this weekend will be cookies when I go to Rooster Brother in Ellsworth for a signing which starts at noon. I’m taking some gameldags pepparkakor from my just-published cookbook Maine Home Cooking, which is based on this very column. I sure hope I will see some of you there.
Candied Orange Peel
Cut the orange in half and use a juicer or reamer to squeeze out the juice which you reserve. Scrape the inside of the peel until you see very little white.
Cut into strips with a pair of kitchen scissors. Cover with hot water and bring to a boil. Boil for five minutes. Drain the peel, cover it again with hot water and boil another five minutes. Drain it, and repeat one more time.
Measure the strained juice and put it into a heavy-bottomed pan. Put an equal quantity of sugar into the pan, and heat it until the sugar dissolves. Add the peel. Boil gently for at least twenty minutes or until the peel is translucent. Lay the strips of candied peel on a rack over waxed paper (to prevent mess from sticky drips) and let cool. Dredge with more granulated sugar if you wish.