T.S. Eliot may have been talking about the locavore larder when he wrote that most famous line, “April is the cruelest month.” Today the sun is shining, our coats are off and I’m salivating for the taste of spring — but the strawberries and rhubarb are still weeks away and I’ve been gnawing on apples since October.
So as I plan plantings and count the days til lemon balm and lemon thyme, I’ll cheer myself up with something as golden as the sun: candied citrus peel, courtesy of those sweet girls at Liddabit. This recipe, adapted from their madcap cookbook, is easy to make, even if you rock the chocolate coating.
The candied peels keep up to a month, by which time I hope to be making strawberry shortcake. Bring it, spring!
Candied citrus peel
For candying the peels:
5 large (5-inch) oranges or medium-size grapefruits, or 7 medium-size (3-inch) lemons or limes
2 cups (475 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (350 g) light corn syrup or honey
For dredging and finishing:
2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar, preferably superfine, or sour sugar, for dredging
2 cups (13 ounces/370 g) chopped dark chocolate, or 2 cups (13 ounces/375 g) chopped dark chocolate and ⅓ cup (75 g)
mild vegetable oil, for dipping (optional)
1. Wash the fruit thoroughly with soap and water to remove any wax. Cut the fruit into quarters with a paring knife, and slice away the pulp from each quarter (save it for juice, lemonade, or whatever you like). Remove as much of the spongy white pith as possible without damaging the outer peel. Slice the cleaned peels into ½- inch-wide strips.
2. Place the peels in a medium-size (3- to 4-quart) saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Once the water has come to a rolling boil, pour it off through the strainer, reserving the peels. Refill the saucepan with cold water, add the peels, and repeat the boil-strain procedure two more times.
3. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and 1 cup of cold water in the same saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
4. Add the reserved peels to the sugar syrup. Return the heat to high and bring the syrup back to a rolling boil. Then reduce the heat to medium and keep the mixture at a low simmer, uncovered, until the syrup thickens somewhat and the peels look slightly translucent, 1 hour.
5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to sit until the syrup is lukewarm to cool, 2 to 3 hours. Drain the syrup from the peels (you can reserve it to sweeten tea, cocktails, and other cold drinks). Set the cooling rack over the prepared baking sheet and spread the peels evenly on the cooling rack, allowing them to drain for 30 to 45 minutes, until they are no longer wet but still sticky.
6. Place the dredging sugar in a small bowl. Dredge the peels in the sugar and return them to the cooling rack. Allow them to sit, uncovered, until they are dry and only very slightly sticky to the touch, 12 to 18 hours. The candied peels are ready to eat!
7. If you want to gussy up the peels with chocolate: Temper the 2 cups chopped dark chocolate, or use the 2 cups chopped dark chocolate and ⅓ cup oil to make Cheater’s Chocolate Coating. Grasp the end of a candied peel and dip it about halfway in the chocolate; place the peel on the second prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all the peels are dipped; allow them to set up, 15 to 30 minutes.
8. Store the candied peels in an airtight container at cool room temperature for up to 1 month.