Well, I humbly stuck my toe into the kiddie pool of: CANDIED FRUITS - those glistening, succulent, sugar coated fruit gems we pay $$ for at the local designer Farmer's Market.
My husband requested a fruit cake, (not one of my favorites) so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to experiment with at least one personal contribution - Candied Orange Peel.
I've never attempted this before, so I went to a trusted source, Epicurious. Boy, I'm glad I did. :)
Yes, I tweaked it...you know me ~
Simple Candied Orange Peel makes approx. 4-5 ounces
3 large oranges, 1/4 inch of the top and bottom cut off
*(original recipe called for only 2 oranges, but 3 worked perfectly!)*
4 cups white sugar, divided
2 cups water
1 cup of Grand Marnier Liqueur
*(original recipe calls for only 3 cups of water)*
Slice 1/4 inch off the the tops and bottoms of each orange.
Score peel on each orange into 4 vertical segments. Remove each segment (INCLUDING the white pith) in 1 complete piece.
Cut segments into 1/4-inch wide strips.
Cook in large pot of boiling water for 15 minutes; drain, rinse and drain again.
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar, water and Grand Marnier to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar.
Add peel, and return to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer until peel is very soft, about 45 minutes. Drain.
Toss peel in 1 cup of sugar on a rimmed baking sheet, separating strips.
Lift peel from sugar and transfer to a sheet of foil. Let stand until coating is dry, 1-2 days. *TWEAK ALERT* (to speed things up, I used a fruit dehydrator for 1 1/2 hours. It worked perfectly!)
You'll notice that nowhere in this recipe does it mention the need to remove the "pith" of the orange. At first I was skeptical, understandably, but trust me - it isn't absolutely necessary. Yes, on the first day the peels will have a slightly bitter bite - but on day two it's virtually gone.
So after the fruit cake is made...I will take the left over candied peels and dip them half way into dark chocolate. THEN...remember the leftover Grand Marnier/Orange simple syrup I simmered the peels in for 45 minutes? It's coming with me to a Holiday Party tomorrow night, as it will help to make the perfect margarita! (wink!)
Have a beautiful Christmas and Holiday Season...I look forward to sharing with you in 2011!!
Oh, and thanks for the QUICKIE (wink!), I'll see ya next week!