Photos by Gayle L. Squires
Orangettes are candied orange peel dipped in dark chocolate. Rather than just using the bright-colored zest, they use the slightly bitter pith, tamed by several dunks in boiling water. I add orange blossom water to the candying syrup to complement the pith. You can substitute for the extract two tablespoons of Cointreau (a cousin to orange blossom water, using the peel rather than flower of bitter Seville oranges) for a boozier snack.
Makes about 100 candies
2 navel oranges (organic and washed well)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
½ pound dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa; I like Callebaut or Ghirardelli)
Peel. Cut off the tops and bottoms of the oranges. Score the skin vertically into quarters down to the flesh. Using your fingers tips and a large spoon, wiggle off the skin (rind and white pith) of each segment in one piece.
Slice. Slice the peel into very thin (approximately 1/8-inch) slices. Each orange should yield 50-60 slices. Use the tip of a paring knife to trim some of the pith from each slice.
Boil. Place the peels in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Drain the peels and rinse with cold water. Clean the saucepan. Repeat the boil-drain-rinse-clean process two more times. Each boil removes some of the bitterness from the peels.
Simmer. Add sugar, water, and orange blossom water to the cleaned saucepan and boil until the sugar dissolves into thin simple syrup, about 5 minutes. Add the rinsed peels and lower temperature to medium so that the syrup gently bubbles to the surface. Be careful not to burn the sugar. Swirl the pan every 20 minutes, but do not stir, which may introduce sugar crystals into the syrup. Simmer gently for 45 to 60 minutes until the peels are translucent. Be careful – the syrup is very hot and can scald.
Dry. Allow the syrup to cool for 10 minutes or until you can handle the peels. Space the peels out on a wire rack placed over a baking sheet (to catch drips) and allow to dry out overnight. Reserve any extra syrup and use to sweeten iced tea or cocktails.
Dip. Temper your chocolate (using this method if you have a candy thermometer and this one if you don’t). Dip each candied peel half-way into the chocolate and place on parchment or a wire rack to dry.
Store. Store orangettes in an airtight jar at room temperature or in the refrigerator.