More on candying

Scorzette di arancia

I first made these four or five years ago now – I can’t exactly remember when. What I do remember is that I was trying to do it blind, my recipe had no image of the end product, and being all fingers and thumbs and an impatient bull in a china shop, my scorzette (literally, ‘peel’, plural) ended up torn and ragged. They resembled more the peelings of a Christmas satsuma than a refined treat of sweetness and bitterness. I love them, they are such an intense hit of orange and chocolate – they’re a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, distilled and perfected.

Unlike the process for candying whole fruit, or thick pithed varieties like citron or pomelo, this technique is relatively quick in terms of actual cooking – the lengthy bit is the drying before you bathe your peel in chocolate.  A small bag of these makes a great gift; once dry, they keep indefinitely, although they tend not to hang around for long.  They might be a bit too mouth-puckering for sweet toothed children, which just means more for you!

Of course, you don’t need to dip them in chocolate, you can use the candied peel in your Christmas cake, or to decorate cannoli.

Scorzette di arancia al cioccolato

Candied orange peel dipped in chocolate

Thick skinned oranges (grapefruit works just as well)

Water

Sugar

Dark chocolate

Wash the fruit, and then cut the top and bottom off.  

Then, with a sharp knife, slice four or five vertical cuts through the skin and pith, from the top to the bottom (try not to cut too deeply into the flesh, as this makes it harder to peel). Space the cuts roughly evenly around the fruit.

Then, carefully, and getting as much as the pith as possible, peel the segments off the fruit.

I slide my thumbnail into the thickest part of the pith and then tease it away.  Try not to tear them, but if you do, it’s not the end of the world.

Put the sections of peel in a pan of cold water, cover, and bring this to the boil.

Drain, and then repeat this another two times.

This process reduces the bitterness of the peel.

Now make a 50:50 mix of water and granulated sugar. Bring to the boil, and when all the sugar is dissolved, add the peel. The amount you’ll need here depends entirely on how many fruit you’ve skinned, but they need to be covered for the whole cooking period, and the syrup will reduce by 50-60%.

Leave the peel to simmer until the syrup has reduced (which can take up to 40 minutes), and the thick white pith has become translucent, telling you that the sugar has penetrated all the way in.

Remove the peel from the syrup, and cut it into strips about 1cm wide, then spread these out on rack to dry (put a piece of baking parchment underneath to catch any drips).

Depending on the temperature, humidity and thickness of the pith, this can take a few days.

Once they’re dry to the touch, break some dark chocolate into a bowl, and place this over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). When it is melted, take your dry strips of candied peel and dip about half to two thirds of each one in the chocolate, and put them on baking parchment while the chocolate sets.

Then store them in something airtight somewhere cool and dry (not the fridge though, as this will make the chocolate discolour).

The fruit can be used for juice, or cut out segments for a fruit salad.

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