Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Home made candied peel

This is a real winter favourite and something I make most years as Christmas gifts – what's not to love about home made candied peel, especially dipped in chocolate. You often see recipes for it in the run up to Christmas as it's photogenic and sounds so luxurious, but they are rarely honest about how long it can take. The method hinges on the sugar syrup dried out fully and this depends on the atmosphere. Last year mine weren't ready in time for Christmas after leaving them for a week to dry out and I think all the damp weather was the problem. However, if you start now and use a warm airing cupboard (or low oven if it comes to it), you should be fine.

You can use any citrus fruit, but I prefer orange as it goes better with chocolate. Select unwaxed fruit or failing that, scrub the skins thoroughly. Divide 6 oranges into quarters and carefully cut away the flesh from the pith and peel. Slice this into strips or leave in larger pieces to use in cooking (cakes, buns, mincemeat etc). Place in a large saucepan or preserving pan and cover with water. Over a low heat simmer until soft. Drain away the water and repeat the process. Strain the fruit and reserve the cooking water for the syrup.

Make a syrup by dissolving 600g granulated sugar in 300ml water, bring it to the boil and let it bubble until slightly thickened. Add the cooked peel. Over a low heat allow it to simmer gently until the peel has absorbed all the syrup – this might take two hours or so and swirl the pan occasionally in case the peel is sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Once all the syrup has been absorbed, arrange the peel on drying racks spaced so the air can circulate. I put the racks on large trays lined with cling film or baking parchment as the sticky syrup drips off the fruit and makes a real mess (I learned this the hard way first time around). Rearrange them every couple of days.

Once fully dry, if you like, dip the peel in melted dark chocolate, alternatively, larger pieces can be snipped up to use in cooking. Store in airtight containers. To say it's better than shop bought candied peel is quite an understatement. It's fabulous with Vin Santo, but Tokaji and other well flavoured sweet wines also work beautifully.

No comments:

Post a Comment