Friday, December 17, 2010

Chocolate Covered Orange Peel

This has been a favorite of my dad's for as long as I can remember, and as I have gotten older, my tastes have changed enough that now I love it too. This is the third time I have attempted this treat (only the second successful one), and this is definitely the best recipe I have found for it. Enjoy.

Chocolate Covered Orange Peel

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

3 large navel oranges, scrubbed

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (The best you can find)

For the Peel

Using a sharp knife, cut a thin slice off the top and bottom of each orange to expose the flesh. Score the peel of each orange into quarters, cutting through the white pith, and carefully pull the quarters of peel off the orange. Using a sharp spoon, scrape off any stringy membranes from the inside of the peel (do not scrape off the white pith). Cut each quarter crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips.

*A few other recipes I have tried in the past instructed the removal of the pith. Don't do it. The pith is what soaks in the sugar, and prevents the peel from becoming incredibly sticky. It also leaves more peel, which means more flavor.*

Put the orange peel in a large heavy saucepan, add cold water to cover and bring to a boil. Drain. Repeat two more times (blanching the peel removes the bitterness).

Return the orange peel to the saucepan, add cold water to cover by about 1 inch and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the peel is tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Combine the corn syrup, sugar and water in the same saucepan in which you blanched the peel and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the orange peel.

Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and simmer gently, stirring once or twice, until the peel is translucent and very tender, and the syrup has reduced to about half a cup, 45 minutes to an hour.

*Do not allow the syrup to reduce to less than this, or the bottom of the pan will become too hot and will crystallize the sugar. Seriously. I tried doing this last year, and melted the pan because I fell asleep.*

Using a slotted spoon or a fork, transfer the peel to a wire rack to drain, separating all the strips of peel. (I use a cookie sheet covered in wax paper. Less clean up afterward.) Let cool and let stand until dry, at least 4 hours - overnight is best.

Once the orange peel is thoroughly dry, it can be stored in an airtight tin at room temperature for up to 1 week.

For the Chocolate

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. This involves filling the bottom pot about half full with water, putting the chocolate in the top pot, and heating uncovered at a low temperature. If you do not have a double boiler, you can improvise one with a pot and a glass bowl.

Melt the chocolate, and stir to make sure it is smooth.

Turn off the heat. Dip each piece of peel in the chocolate and cover as much as desired. Lay on a piece of wax or parchment paper to dry. You may have chocolate left over, so have some other dried fruit or nuts on hand to dip. I used dried cranberries and pieces of candied ginger.

This is a time consuming recipe, so make sure you are into it before attempting. It is delicious though, and not terribly difficult, so it is good for someone just starting out in the chocolate making field. I find it helps to listen to the soundtrack for Chocolat to put you in the mood. :)