Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Candied orange dipped in chocolate

I've tackled this project in search of an inexpensive but classy looking wedding gift for some friends that got married last august. Money, we didn't have, but time, there was plenty (well, sorta, I had a shortened sleep schedule the whole week before and finished the packaging the very morning of the wedding).

I had gotten a 12 navel oranges bag and decided to experiment. I made half slices and I also made the regular peels. Aside from being much less time consuming to do, the slices came out much better to my liking than the regular peels, with that soft chewy middle. I was affraid to loose all the flavor and juices by blanching them like I did for the peels (to remove bitterness), so I just threw them in the pot of boiling sugar and let them candy away.

For that extra touch of fancyness, I decided to dip each candy half in dark chocolate. This was my first time dealing with chocolate for coating. I had no thermometer, I didn't know about the chocolate heat curve and all I understood from tempering chocolate is that somehow I had to keep asside some pieces of chocolate to "seed" it, so it would promote crystal formation.Really, I had no clue what I was doing, which ended up with most of the chocolate looking dull and streaked.

Still, I got lucky: because I wanted to speed up the drying process of the chocolate, which was taking forever, (untempered chocolate will take an obscene amount of time to harden) I just shoved one of the trays I was using in the fridge. Score ! My chocolate dried AND gained the glossy look of tempered chocolate.

We had some news from the newly wed after they came back from their honeymoon... the oranges were reported not to have lasted long (there was over 90 strips of peel and about 40 half slices if I remember well) and they were a complete hit !

So now, why don't you try them out and impress your family and friends ? 

Candied orange peels

4 oranges, peel of (or any thick skinned orange)

3 cups sugar
1 cup water

1 cup sugar for rolling
8 oz chocolate for dipping

How to
You can harvest the peel in many ways. Here are two of them: 1) Cut the oranges in half and juice them. Cut each half in half again and take a spoon to scrape the pulp out, leaving a clean pith. 2) Lop off the top and bottom of each orange (think of removing the polar caps where the stem and opposite end are) just to the fruit. Score the orange peel like lines of longitude every 60 degrees. Peel the orange and clean the inside of the peel with a spoon.

If you want to go for slices or half slices, remove top and bottom of orange, make slices and cut in half. I skipped the blanching part and just threw them in to boil.

Cut peel into 1/4 inch strips. Place peels in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Heat on high until water comes to a boil. Pour off the water. Repeat twice more. Combine sugar and water in the saucepan and bring to boil over high heat until temperature reaches 230F. Add peel and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until peels are translucent (30 minutes or longer – 75 minutes at 8500 ft. elevation). Remove peels from syrup and roll in sugar if desired, and set on rack to dry for 4-5 hours (Mine were taking much longer, so I set them in the oven on the lowest temperature setting to speed things up. I did not roll them in sugar, so if you do that, you might want to stick to the rack drying thing.). Once the peel is dry, you can dip in tempered dark chocolate – shake off excess, and place on foil, wax paper, or baking sheet to dry. Store in a tupperware, or if not chocolate dipped, store in sugar or as is.

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