December 17, 2020

Orangettes

As essential as cookies are, I love trying a candy or confection recipe every holiday season. Whether it be toffee or a nut brittle or marshmallows, it's fun to mix things up and learn something new.  This year, I landed on Orangettes, or candied orange peels dipped in chocolate. 

As someone who loves the combination of chocolate and orange, I adore Orangettes and buy them occasionally as a treat (they do tend to be on the pricey side).  When I stumbled upon a recipe for them, I thought this was a perfect project for me to try right now.  I highly recommend it!
Small batch recipes abound these days and that's right up my alley - especially when it comes to tackling a new project like this for the first time.  I found the inspiration and recipe from eat live travel writeMaking Orangettes is surprisingly easy; it does involve several steps and an overnight wait (for the candied peels to dry) but since we have time on our hands these days, I don't think that's a problem.  The reward is a new skill and a bundle of delicious candied orange peels dipped in chocolate. Delicious!

Start with an organic orange.  Also pick a thick skinned one because thicker peels will be easier to work with. Prep the orange by slicing each end off the orange (so that you have two flat ends).  To remove the peel, score the orange from top to bottom so you have 4 vertical segments, then peel them away.  Trim any excess white from the peel and slice into strips, about 1/4 inch wide.  I was concerned that the thick white part of the orange peel would be bitter in the final result but that was not an issue at all.  
Put the peels into a pot of cold water, just covering.  We need to blanch the peels twice to remove the bitterness.  Bring the pan to a boil on high heat, then cook for 5 minutes.  Repeat the process a second time.
After the second blanching, let the peels cool while preparing a simple syrup of 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar.  Bring the simple syrup to a simmer, stirring well to dissolve.  Add peels and lower the heat to low.  Cover the pot and let the peels simmer for 1 hour, keeping an eye on them and stirring every so often.
Remove the candied orange peels and set them, spaced apart, on a wire rack to cool.  This is where patience comes in; allow the candied peels to dry completely overnight.   
The next day, it's time to finish the candied peels by dipping them in chocolate.  I used dark chocolate and I got this notion that I wanted to use Guittard brand chocolate, specifically (I was thinking about William Sonoma's peppermint bark, which are so good in part due to Guittard chocolate).  Since the only Guittard chocolate I have on hand are their dark chocolate chips, I melted some for dipping these orange peels in.
Thinking on it afterwards, I think it would have been wiser to chop up and melt a chocolate bar rather than chips.  Using "couverture" chocolate (companies like Callebaut offer them specifically) that's designed for dipping, which have a thinner, more fluid consistency would be ideal.  Nevertheless...while my chocolate was on the thick side and not as smooth as it could be, it was surely delicious.  The orange really makes the chocolate pop.  Just make sure to use a delicious chocolate and you'll be set.   
These Orangettes turned out better than I expected.  My husband (who I boxed these up to "gift" to) loved them and even our teenage son was an unexpected fan!  I was really pleasantly surprised.  Texture and flavor wise, the homemade peels were soft, chewy, and sweet - bursting with orange flavor that contrasts yet harmonizes with the chocolate so well.  The Orangettes are also beautiful to look at; I like leaving part of the orange peel showing so you can see the vibrant jewel-orange color of them, shiny and glistening with sugar, looking almost like jewels.

Recipe:

Orangettes (Candied Orange Peels dipped in Chocolate) 
Adapted from Eat.Live.Travel.Write

- Makes approximately 30 Orangettes - 

1 organic orange, preferably thick-skinned

For simple syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar

For dipping:
Approximately 3 ounces dark chocolate (more or less depending on how much of each candied peel you wish to dip in chocolate), melted 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set a rack on top.  Set aside.

Prep orange and blanch (twice): Prep orange by slicing each end off to make a flat surface.  Score the orange from top to bottom so you have 4 vertical segments, then peel.  Trim any excess white from the peel and slice into strips, about 1/4 inch wide.  

Place peels in a pot and fill it with cold water, just covering.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat, drain the water and refill the pan again with fresh cold water.  Bring to a boil over high heat and blanch again for 5 minutes.  Drain the peels and set aside while preparing the next step. 

Cook in sugar syrup and cool: Place sugar and water in a small pot and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved.  Add peels, stir, and lower the heat to lower.  Cover the pot and simmer the peels for 1 hour, checking on it now and then, giving it a stir.  After the peels have been "candied", place them individually on the prepared baking sheet so they are not touching.  Allow the peels to dry overnight.  

Dip peels in chocolate:  Line a new baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl over just simmering water and stir until just melted.  Carefully dip each candied peel in chocolate, then set on parchment-lined sheet.  Allow chocolate to set fully before storing the orangettes in single layers (with wax paper or parchment between layers), in an airtight container.




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