Saturday, July 31, 2010

Orange Candy Demystified, a refreshing summertime treat

Dessert isn’t something I focus on much in my writing. Possibly because I don’t eat many sweets, but there are certain desserts and candies that will always have a place in my heart. Cheesecake is certainly one of them, as well as truffles. Then there are orange candies. You know, the ones that your grandparents always kept in a glass jar on the end table in the living room. However, I’m not here to talk about mass-produced mounds of sugar and artificial flavorings. No, I’m here to talk about real, home made, orange candies.

If you’ve never made candy in your home then you are missing out on one of the most wonderful experiences that you can provide to your family and your guests. Most people probably assume it’s too difficult, but I’m here to tell you it’s not. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

The recipe I’m giving you today is for orange candy; however, you can convert this recipe to accommodate any citrus fruit that has a rind, and each time you will create a unique result, true to the flavor of that fruit.

But let’s not stop there. One day, while planning the menu for a client, I got to thinking about dessert and how I could make something new and different, that they’d never seen before. Then it came to me; a candied dessert cup. Imagine a summertime dessert that starts with a citrus gelato, topped with strips of orange candy, a sprig of mint and presented in an edible candied orange cup. I’ll leave the gelato for another time, but the cup is easy and it’s just a slight modification to the recipe below.

Orange Candy

The best part about this recipe is that you also make yourself a nice glass of fresh squeezed orange juice in the process.

2 - 3 oranges (or lemons, limes, grapefruit, ect.)
12 fl oz water
1 lb sugar
4 oz corn syrup

Plus 1 cup of sugar in a bowl for coating the candy.

Slice the oranges in half. With a reamer or orange juicer, juice the orange. Then, take a spoon and work your way between the remaining fruit and the rind. Be careful not to pierce the rind. Scrape the inside of the rind until all of the fruit and membrane have peeled away (see picture for end result).

Now, slice the fruit as you’d like for the candy. You can make strips, squares and other shapes, or you can leave the orange cut in half to create the candy cup. (A note on the candy cup; turn the peel on its side and slice a small amount from the bottom to create a flat surface. This will help the cup stand on it’s own and for the candy process to sweeten the bottom of the rind.)

Now, place the orange slices in a cold pot and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Remove the orange rind from the water and repeat three times (cold water, boil, remove) to remove the bitterness of the rind. (This may seem time consuming but it’s quite easy.)

In a pot, place the water from the recipe above and turn the burner to medium-high. Add the sugar while stirring and then add the corn syrup. Allow this mixture to come to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Add the orange rinds to the simmering water and sugar mixture; make sure the rinds are submerged. For candy strips, simmer for one hour. For candy cups, simmer for 1½ hours.

Remove the candy (no longer rinds) from the mixture when the time is up and lay them out on a cooling rack.

One at a time, drop them into the bowl of sugar and flip them around until completely covered with a thin coating.

(Do the same with the candy cup.) Set each candy to the side and allow them to cool and dry completely.

You’ve just made orange candy. If you made the orange candy cup, add a scoop or two of gelato with a sprig of mint and a few orange candy slices on top, to create an elegant and delicious dessert.

Here’s a really great twist: Skip coating them in sugar. Allow them to cool and dry for four hours. Then, in a double boiler, (bane marie) slowly melt 7 ounces of semi-sweet baker’s chocolate, stirring regularly. Once the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the stove and place on a warm towel. Dip (I like to use a tooth pick) each orange slice into the chocolate and lay them out in a cool area (preferable under 70 degrees) on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. During this process, if the chocolate in the bowl become too cool, return the bowl to the double boiler for 30 seconds while stirring. Allow the orange slices to cool completely for one to two hours.

You’ve just made chocolate-covered orange candies.

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