Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The bane of my existance, candied orange peels

I have a newfound respect for people who regularly candy orange peels.

I love candied orange peels almost more than I love Mr. O. Seriously.

However, after hours and hours of labor to make homemade candied orange peels, I might just be buying them from the market from now on.

I added corn syrup because many recipes complain of stirring orange peels and crystallization process - this eliminates that problem and allows for stirring.

Even with all the labor.... they are so good.

Candied orange peels

makes a lot
6 oranges
5 cups sugar, plus extra for rolling
one cup water
1/2 cup corn syrup

Cut the oranges in half and juice them.

Remove the pulp from the oranges, leaving the rind and pith. Slice orange rinds into 1/4" thick slices. I would recommend a santoku because the skin tends to fight back and usually gets scored instead of cut.

Boil orange peels three times in boiling water for 30 minutes each time. (This removes the bitterness, from what they say.)

Drain peels one final time. In pot, combine 5c sugar, 1/2 c corn syrup and 1c water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. When mixture starts boiling, add orange peels. Allow to cook until pith is transluscent (most recipes say 30 minutes - for me and my big oranges, it was more like an hour and a half).

Remove peels from sugar syrup. Roll in sugar and allow to air dry on parchment for 4-5 hours.

Peppermint bark

I was lazy and so this peppermint bark didn't come out as pretty as it could have, but it was tasty anyway.

It really, really helps this recipe if you have room in your fridge for the baking sheet or, conversely, a really cold balcony where you can set the baking sheets for 30 minutes.

Peppermint bark

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate
12 oz milk chocolate
peppermint candies

rolling pin

Unwrap peppermint candies and place in a plastic bag that can be zipped. Find a hard surface and beat the everloving hell out of the peppermint candies with the rolling pin so that they make nice small shards of pepperminty goodness. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange semisweet chocolate on the silpat in the center of the mat. Carefully place in oven and watch it melt (but don't let it burn).

Mixture is ready when a spatula easily spreads the melted chips.

Take the pan out of the oven and spread the chocolate to the edges of the mat as evenly as possible. Set in fridge (or outside) to cool.

Meanwhile, place white chocolate in a double boiler and melt the chips. When the semisweet chocolate is cooled, spread white chocolate mixture over the top of the semisweet chocolate. Get those peppermint shards ready and sprinkle away, carefully pressing into the mixture. Cool again.

Break into pieces and serve. Makes a lot.

Honeycomb Toffee

My school didn't do this experiment when we were growing up. Blame it on the under-compensated, overworked teachers who were afraid to let children near flames and hot sugar.

However, it sure is fun now. I can't recommend highly enough sifting your baking soda and stirring QUICKLY before sloshing the mixture onto a Silpat (or parchment paper might work, I suppose).

Also, be ready to clean your pan for the fifteen minutes that it takes this candy to harden. I think that they should use this stuff to adhere concrete blocks together!

Honeycomb candy always comes out tasting a little burnt instead of caramel-like. Any one else have this problem?

Honeycomb candy
Makes enough for four gift baskets

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tb corn syrup
1 tb baking soda

Combine first three ingredients in pan until mixture turns lightly golden yellow. Quickly stir in baking soda and marvel as the mixture frothes. It might be a good time to make sure your pan fits 3x the mixture comfortably before you do this step. Pour mixture quickly onto a prepared baking sheet with silpat or other non-sticky underside. Toffee will cool in about fifteen minutes. Break apart and enjoy!

I'm back!

Sorry for that giant, gaping hole of a break, ya'll. School caught up with me. On the other hand, now that school is done, I have some free time with which to photograph and more importantly, to make holiday baskets for friends and loved ones.

I think this may be Mr. O's favorite time of the year because of the amount of sugar that enters and exits my kitchen.

Now, on to candy recipes... some old, some new, some good, some definitely test runs.