Turn peels from expensive organic oranges into a wide range of treats, from raisin substitutes to a gourmet candy. Boil the peels twice, once in plain water to extract the bitterness and then in sugar water to infuse them with sweetness. Save and reuse the sugar water used for the second boiling to make this a thrifty as well as easy and delicious dessert.
Prep time: 20 minutes. Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes plus a day or two for drying. Makes 16 servings, 5 slices each.
Candied Orange Peels with Chocolate and Chipotle Options
- 4 peels from large oranges, preferrable organic navel oranges
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon chipotle
- Bring a large covered pot of water to boil over high heat.
- Rinse oranges, score peel 3 to 5 times from navel to stem end, and then remove peels in large sections. Save oranges for another use.
- Slice peel sections into 1/4-inch wide strips, adding strips to water as you go. When water boils, reduce heat to low and simmer strips in covered pot for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, leaving pot undisturbed for 5 more minutes.
- Drain, rinse strips well, and return to pot. Add 2 cups water and 2 cups sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar melts and water is clear. Use a spoon to push strips under the liquid, cover pot, and reduce heat so mixture barely boils.Simmer for 35 minutes, then turn off heat and let pot sit undisturbed for 10 more minutes until peels are tender. Drain liquid, reserving to use for next batch of peels, to sweeten tea, or other uses.
- For candied or chocolate orange peels, toss peels with 1/4 cup sugar.
- Arrange strips in a single layer on two cookie sheets lined with aluminum foil. If you line strips up with the short end of the foil, it's easy to roll up foil to refrigerate. Let dry for two days at room temperature, until peel is slightly stiff. Optionally, speed drying by putting in warm oven for 15 to 30 minutes, checking often to prevent burning. To refrigerate at night, roll up foil and press ends together to make a seal.
- For chocolate orange peels, melt chocolate in microwave on medium power in 30 second bursts, stirring between bursts. Dip one end of each strip in melted chocolate, then put on waxed paper to harden. Go gourmet by sprinkling chocolate with a mix of kosher salt and chipotle before it hardens.
- Store peels in a covered container in the refrigerator. Chop plain Sweet Orange Peels to use in place of raisins in muffins or other recipes. Serve candied or chocolate-dipped orange peels as a snack or dessert. Just a few strips with a cup of tea or coffee make a grand finish for a meal!
Tips and notes
- Stir any extra sugar from making candied orange peels into reserved sugar water or "simple syrup." Refrigerate and reuse for next batch of peels, adding enough water to make 2 cups liquid and the same volume of sugar. The bitterness will accumulate, though, so I use it only twice.
- I use Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips for the chocolate, which are dairy-free and delicious.
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