Oh, what to do with all of the fruit leftover from flavor tripping? If I hadn’t come down with a cold immediately after my birthday, these babies would have had Vodka Mixers written all over them. Alas, I needed to find a more creative option. My search led me to one of my culinary enemies: sugar. Now, I have no problem mixing it into something and throwing it in the oven. I’m even ok with dissolving it over heat for a few minutes. But me + sugar + heat for a prolonged amount of time = PROBLEMS. And this wasn’t exactly an exception.
While I’d like to blame it all on the evil, diabolic properties of sugar, I guess I should take some responsibility for not understanding the science behind the stuff. What I have learned so far is this: pay attention. Don’t leave it alone for more than a few minutes. Simmering citrus peels in sugar and water seemed easy enough to me. I was neurotically checking it every five minutes for the first half hour, and it seemed to be going just fine. So, I left it alone for about 30 minutes. Whoops. When I came back to check it, some of the sugar had started to burn, along with a good deal of the peels. Frick.
In the end, I managed to salvage about half of the peels. And the ones that did survive were delicious! I definitely plan to make these again, with a higher success rate. If you’re someone who likes to give homemade gifts, put these on your list (especially with the holidays fast approaching). Trust me, your friends will be impressed (and delighted—who doesn’t like candy?!).
Chocolate-Dipped Candied Citrus Peels
(from Zoe Bakes)
- 3 grapefruits
- 2 oranges
- 2 lemons
- 4 1/2 cups of sugar (plus more, for rolling)
- 3 cups of water (plus more, for blanching)
- 2 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice (to keep sugar from crystallizing)
- 8 oz of extra-dark chocolate (80% cacao), finely chopped
Thoroughly wash fruit and cut off the skin. Remove some of the bitter pith from the peels. Don’t worry about trying to remove it all. Blanching the peels later will remove the bitterness. (I would remove less the next time.) Slice into strips.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add peels and boil for 5 minutes, then drain. Repeat this process three more times. (I found it helpful to have two pots of water boiling, transferring the peels back and forth from one to the other.) Place blanched peels in a pot and add sugar, water, and lemon juice. Simmer over medium-low heat until peels are translucent (approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours). Don’t forget to keep an eye on them! A friend also told me that it helps to keep a bowl of water and a silicone brush nearby. Every so often, dip the brush in the water and run it around the inside perimeter of the pot. When finished, drain and let peels dry on a cooling rack overnight.
Prepare a plate of sugar. Roll peels in sugar until fully coated. You can leave them like this, but they’re even tastier when they’re coated in chocolate!
When I decided to coat these in chocolate, I thought it was as easy as melting a bunch of chocolate in a double boiler and dipping them in it. Not quite. You are going to need to temper your chocolate. (Well, what the heck does that mean?) Okay: Prepare your double boiler. Set aside 1/3 of your chocolate and transfer the rest to the double boiler. Whisk until chocolate is dissolved and mixture has reach 115°. Remove from heat and immediately add in remaining chocolate. Whisk until completely dissolved, and chocolate has cooled to around 84°. (Doing this will bring down the temperature of your chocolate, and also give it that pretty, glossy finish.) Now, apparently you can finish up the tempering process a couple different ways. Option 1: Return mixture to double boiler for 5–10 seconds. Remove from heat and whisk to cool. Repeat until mixture has reached 88°. Option 2: Tabling! If you have a marble pastry board and a dough scraper, I recommend giving this a try, just because it’s fun (and you’ll feel like a real chocolatier). Reheat mixture to 90°. Pour 2/3 of mixture onto your pastry board and scrape the mixture back and forth (spreading it thin and then bringing it back together), until it feels somewhat sludgy. Return it to your bowl of warm chocolate and stir to combine. Dip peels in chocolate and let them cool on waxed paper. They will keep at room temperature for a couple weeks (but I bet they won’t be around for that long).