Sunday, December 07, 2008

Holiday Gifty Idea #2: Candied Orange Peel
Look what was outside my window this morning! Our first real snow of the season. It was that really perfect, fluffy kind with the big flakes.

Of course, this meant that I didn't get out to visit my girl, Squirrelly, until later in the day. Here she's saying, "Didn't I order those nuts hours ago?!!" She and her babies got some corn chips, crackers, walnuts, almonds and their favorites: hazelnuts in the shell.

So, on to the gifties! It all started like this: H. was feeling a little sniffly this past week so I asked him if he wanted me to make some fresh orange juice . He was happy to get the juice and I *think* he started to feel better by yesterday because he's back to bouncing around the house with his various projects. But I was left with all these perfectly good orange halves from the juice making. So I thought, how hard could it be to make candied orange peel? I need some anyway for making two German holiday recipes later this month so instead of buying some, why not make it? I did my web research. I settled on this recipe because it made the most sense to me. I'll explain why in a sec!

I started by cutting the orange peel halves in half again. I then used a melon baller to scrap away most of the pith (whitish stuff). This worked fairly well but it was quite a bit of work. I then sliced the peel into longish slivers. Once I finished this, I put it all in a bowl, covered it with water and added a tbsp. of salt and left it out over night. I *think* this is the same reason that you'd do this with eggplant: to draw the bitter juices out but not certain.

The next morning (this morning), I drained the peel and washed it under running water to get rid of the salt. The next step is to place the peel in a pot and add a bit of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, drain in a collander and then repeat this process two more time. This supposedly removes more of the bitter orange flavor too.

The recipe called for 1/2 cup of water and 2 cups of sugar. Honestly, I was loathe to give up 2 cups of my vegan sugar (call me the sugar grinch!) but after adding a cup and then 1/2 cup, I decided to do the whole amount. Remembering from my jam making that sugar binds up moisture, I thought that there may be a reason for this much sugar to help keep the shelf life of the candied orange peel. And the reason why I picked this recipe. So pour that sugar on!

Cook until the peel turns translucent..takes about 10-15 minutes on medium heat.

Put put the mixture in a collander which itself was in a bowl to collect the remaining syrup.
I then put the syrup in a bottle, added some of the orange peel and put it aside.

I put more of the sugar in a small bowl and then rolled the peel.

I then placed them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet..don't they look like gummy worms?!

The syrup in a bottle becomes an orange-flavored syrup, great for pancakes, tea, etc. It's a nice golden color and kinda reminds me of orange flower honey back in the pre-vegan days. But nicer!

The candied peel itself is nice for muffins, breads, cookies, whatever you want. I'll be giving out little bottles of it but for now, it's stored in a larger container.

And of course, chocolate-covered! I used unsweetened Scharffen Berger chocolate to counter the sweetness of the peel itself.

This was quite a project but I'd do it again because I got three gift ideas out of one plus plenty of candied peel for future baking projects. You can also save the sugar from the rolling step for any recipe that you want to add an orangy sweet flavor to.


Tara said...

Wow! Those orange peels look incredibly delicious, and I love the versatility of that recipe. And I love the squirrels! Happy, fat little squirrels!

Jes said...

The peels are so pretty! And sparkley--god knows I love anything sparkley. :)

Jenn said...

That squirrel is really cute. Nice shot from the tree hole.

Great home made gift! Very creative and yummy!

Anonymous said...

I love that squirrel in tree shot - too cute!
Orange peel - what a great idea! I made some candied orange peels a few months back and it was a bit of work, but really fun and now I'm thinking some orangettes would be fun for the holidays! Yes!

~Vail said...

Your squirrels are gorgeous ;) Mine are very fat right now too, and chowing down on their allotment of sunflower seeds. It hadn't occurred to me to give them stuff from my green waste, so thanks for the idea. I'll try giving them the seeds from the butternut squash soup I plan to make later this week. Much fun reading your holiday posts, I'm so craving a chocolate covered orange peel right about now :)

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

That squirrel is too cute; it's like he blends in with the tree! Squirrel or chamelion?!