For about 10 years my husband has been sharing the story of making chocolate coated candied orange peel with his big sister Kathie. So it’s something I’ve had on my kitchen to-do list every winter for a long time now.
It’s really something you can only do during winter, when navel oranges are at their best. Navels are my favourites and one of the very few things I really look forward to winter for. If you plan on making these, try to go the extra mile and source organically grown, unwaxed oranges. I could grumble about fruit waxing again at this stage, but won’t. I’ve grumbled about that before and once is enough.
Last year I attempted to make them, but wasn’t terribly successful. They weren’t awful, but were far too sweet and I ended up rinsing all the sugar coating off and soaking them in some whisky we had in the cupboard. That worked rather well. It infused an orange flavour to the whisky and the whisky soaked peels were used in ice-cream and a couple of other desserts I made up on the hop.
But they weren’t the ones of my husband’s memories. And so another winter came and went without a batch of these sweet treats.
At a recent family member’s wedding I sat next to Kathie at the reception. It was the perfect time to chat about Tony’s longstanding memory of her candied orange peels and I asked if she would share the recipe. We had recently been given a lot of oranges from our new neighbours, who had an abundance of fruit on their tree and I thought it would be a great thing to do.
Although the neighbours’ fruit gift had been eaten and enjoyed, with it still winter there are still plenty of beautiful oranges around and I was able to source lovely fresh organic ones from a local market. It was time to meet this challenge! A bit nervously I might add, as I wanted Tony to be transported back to the lovely warm memory of his time making them with Kathie.
Although this recipe takes a few days to make, there is very little actual time involved in preparing them. They spend quite a bit of time soaking, which I’m guessing is done to draw the bitterness out of the peels and turn them into chewy candies. You could try to make them with a shorter brining time, I’m sure they’d still work.
I had plenty of oranges and doubled the recipe, using eight oranges instead of four. I also doubled everything else and ended up with too much sugar syrup.
To use the extra sugar syrup and as an experiment, I did some really fine rind with a zester, which took very little time. I only brined these for an hour, then boiled, then drained and rinsed, then simmered in the sugar syrup straight away.
They worked a treat and are crisp bites that I’ll use on a chocolate pudding of some sort over the weekend.
But enough chat, let’s make the original and the best ever candied orange peel with yummy chocolate coating.
Chocolate Coated Candied Orange Peel
You will need
4 organic, unwaxed oranges (okay, there are six in the picture)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1,1/4 cups water, extra
500 grams sugar
125 grams castor sugar
200 grams good quality dark chocolate
Cut the oranges in quarters and carefully peel away the fruit from the rind. If the pith is too thick, remove a little but retain enough to keep the rinds firm and in shape.
Trim the rinds and then cut into strips about 1/2 cm wide.
Dissolve the salt in the 2 cups of cold water and add the rinds to the bowl, making sure they’re all covered. Cover and set aside for 48 hours.
Drain the rinds, then place in a saucepan with enough fresh water to cover. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for about 20 minutes, until tender. Remove from the heat, drain, place into a heatproof bowl.
Place the sugar and extra water in a pan and stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Cool for a few minutes, then pour the syrup over the rinds. Cover and set aside for another 24 hours.
The next day, place rinds and syrup in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and boil gently until the rinds are transparent. The recipe suggests 20 minutes, but I found it took about 40 minutes to get them really glisteningly transparent.
Remove from the heat and strain. The orange syrup can be kept for use in cocktails and other goodies if you want.
Preheat your oven to 120C – a slow oven is important, because you don’t want to burn the sugar.
Toss the rinds in the caster sugar and spread in a single layer on an oven tray (or trays) and place in the slow oven to dry. After about 30 minutes, turn the oven off, but leave the rinds in until completely dry and cool.
The rinds can now be eaten as they are, or coated in chocolate for real jaffa treats.
To chocolate coat
Take 200 grams of best quality couverture chocolate (or the best you can find) and break into a bowl. Place over gently simmering water and melt, stirring occasionally.
Dip the orange rinds into the chocolate and using a knife, wipe the excess away. Place on trays covered with parchment paper for the chocolate to set.
You can half cover with chocolate, or dip the whole thing. It’s messy, but worth it.
The real test of these rinds was my husband’s reaction when he tasted the finished, chocolate coated ones.