I love citrus. I love citrus more than chocolate. I go weeks and months without eating anything chocolate (chocolate Easter candy lasts until Thanksgiving, gasp!), but show me something with citrus and I get all weak-kneed and weak-willed.
In this house, holiday breakfasts usually are often comprised of eggs Benedict and mimosas. I like freshly squeezed orange juice and it such a small extra effort that it's no bother to me. The nice thing is, I have the peels of half a dozen oranges just beckoning to be used, and the candied orange peel is the way I make frugal use of the entire orange.
So why has it taken me so long to discover my new favorite sweet, the candied orange peel? I cannot begin to fathom the reason, but now that I have, I am in orange heaven. If you like those jellied orange slices so often sold in drug stores, or occasionally seen in boxes of better candies, I can virtually guarantee that you will love these. The pungent, tart orange flavor is sweetened with a sugar coating, a little chewy bite that explodes with flavor. If you can boil water and make a simple syrup, you will have no problem making these delicious orange slices that look so fancy but are so easy. And what to do with the orange flavored simple syrup after you've boiled your orange peels in it, use it for sweetening tea, of course. Nothing gets wasted!
I found my recipe on the Foodnetwork, and I really like it. The entire peel is used, pith and all. In the past I peeled the orange using a vegetable peeler, but I've decided I like this method better. I prefer the thicker slices and the more assertive orange flavor. If one wanted to, these slices could be dipped in melted chocolate, a beautiful and delicious presentation. These candies last quite a while, about two months or more if tightly covered and refrigerated, but I attest to it; they don't last that long here.
Candied Orange Peel
6 thick-skinned Valencia or navel oranges
4 1/2 cups of sugar plus extra for rolling
1 1/2 cups water
Peel the skin and pith of the orange in large pieces (preserving orange for another recipe). Cut the peel into strips about 1/4-inch wide. Put the orange peel in a large saucepan with cold water to cover, bring to a boil over high heat. Once it starts to boil, pour off the water. Repeat 1 or 2 more times depending up how assertive you want the orange flavor to be. Drain. Remove the orange peels from the pan.
Whisk the sugar with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 9 minute, or until it reaches 230 to 234 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. Add back the peels and simmer gently. Cook until the peels get translucent, about 45 minutes. Resist the urge to stir the peels or sugar crystals may form. If necessary, swirl the pan to move the peels around. Drain the peels, reserving the syrup for tea, if you wish.
Add maybe a 1/4 to 1/2 cup in a medium bowl and add the orange peels. Roll the peels about in the sugar, coating them thoroughly. Dry on a rack for several hours. Store in a tightly covered container.