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).
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup sugar for rolling
8 oz chocolate for dipping
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.