I’ve been receptive to all sorts of inspiring lately. First there was the elving (still in the works, too), and then there were these:
Candied orange rinds dipped in dark chocolate. (Cue the Hallelujah Chorus.)
My girlfriend (the same one who was present for the Christmas nippy shake-down) is the one responsible for bringing these into my life. She started messing around with orange peels in her kitchen and within a couple days I had purchased myself some oranges, too. I’m such a follower.
They are simple to make, folks. Easy Peasy, A Piece of Cake, and Nothing To It, etc. All you do is blanch some orange rinds, simmer them in simple syrup, dry them out a bit, and then dunk them in chocolate.
When you stop to think about it, it’s just salvaged compost that gets a gussy-up treatment. And when you look at it that way, these decadent little gems suddenly appear thrifty. Downright virtuous. A frugal woman’s dream.
(For the record: I am neither frugal nor thrifty nor virtuous. Proof: I went out and bought oranges just for their hides instead of the other way around—buying oranges for the insides and then scrounging around for a recipe that called for orange rinds because it would be an abomination to throw out so much lovely orange-y-ness.)
Despite all my prattle about it being a simple recipe, my first batch went to the chickens. A recipe I found on the web called for cooking the sugar-water syrup till it reached the soft ball stage and then adding the rinds and simmering them for another hour. The result? Crystallized, crunchy, gross orange rinds. To make matters worse, silly me went ahead and dipped them in chocolate anyway and then decided there was no redemption to be found anywhere and dumped the whole extravagant failure into the slop bucket. (You’d think the chickens might take into consideration all the gourmet fare I feed them and lay me some Cadbury eggs...)
The second batch was much, much better. My friend patiently coached me through the process via the phone wires until I finally had a confection worth eating.
And once I started eating—oh-me-oh—I couldn't stop!
I am enormously proud of these little delicacies. Gummy, chewy orange-ness with a touch of bite and a kick of dark sweet. They’re good. Three-fourths of my children even like them!
Then I went and gave them all away so now I have to make me some more.
But I think I’ll wait till we get ourselves our Christmas citrus. Wouldn’t want any rinds to go to waste, you know.
Chocolate-Dipped Candied Orange Rinds
I did only four oranges but found I had plenty of simple syrup. Next time I’ll probably do six oranges at one go.
5-6 thick-skinned oranges, rinds of
4 cups white sugar
3 cups water
1 pound good chocolate
Wash the oranges (if you can find organic oranges, go for those) and cut the north and south poles off. Score the oranges into four sections and, using your fingers, gently pry off each section of rind. Slice the rinds into sticks about 1/4-inch wide.
Put the sliced orange rinds into a kettle and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Dump the contents of the kettle into a strainer, discarding the water. Rinse off the rinds with cold water. Repeat the blanching process two more times.
Put the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a full boil. Add the thrice-blanched orange rinds and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer (a gentle bubble) and allow to cook for 45-60 minutes, or until translucent (the pith loses its whiteness and turns a little more, well, translucent).
Remove the rinds from the syrup (if you wish, you may save the orange-flavored simple syrup to add to hot tea, punch, or alcoholic beverages) and lay the rinds out on a wire rack that is positioned atop a cookie sheet to catch the drips. Let the orange pieces dry by either a) letting them sit at room temperature for a couple days, or b) setting your oven to the “warm” temp and “baking” them for two or three hours. (Lacking patience, I went the “b” route.)
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and dip each candied orange rind into the chocolate. Scrape off excess chocolate before laying the candies on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet to dry.
Store chocolates in glass jars or tins at room temperature.
This same time, years previous: walnut balls