Monday, December 8, 2008

Candied Citrus Peel

What do the lebkuchen and brandied fruitcake drops have in common? Besides both being from Christmas 101, that is.

The use of candied citrus peels.

In fact, a lot of holiday recipes call for candied citrus peel of one kind or another (or, heck, in combination). Moreover, you can dip candied citrus peel (I'd call it CCP, but that's just one C short of the Soviet Union, and I'd have weird cognitive issues with that) in melted chocolate and give it out as presents to your neighbors, coworkers, and holiday hosts and hostesses. Yes, really! Honestly! Homemade goodies are a great thing to bring to parties, and this one doesn't take long at all.
Candied Citrus Peels

Makes about 3/4 pound

Make ahead: The candied peels must stand overnight before rolling in sugar. They can then be stored, in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to 1 month.

2 medium grapefruits
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar plus additional for coating
1/3 cup light corn syrup

1. Using a sharp knife, cut off the tops and bottoms of the grapefruits so they can stand. Cut off the rinds in thick, wide strips where the rind meets the fruit. Cut the rind into long strips about 1/2 inch wide. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook at a gentle boil for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Return to the pan, cover with water, and repeat the procedure.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, corn syrup, and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the peels and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the peels are translucent and tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the peels. Arrange the peels, not touching each other, on a wire cake rack set over a baking sheet. Let stand at room temperature overnight. Roll the peels in additional sugar to coat. (The candied peels can be prepared up to 1 month ahead, stored in an airtight container at room temperature.)
Do you hate grapefruit? I do. Oh, don't get me wrong... give me a nice can of Fresca, with its chemically wonderfulness, and "grapefruit flavor" will be okay. But when it comes to citrus, grapefruit just isn't my thing.

If you're like me, you can substitute 3 oranges, or 4 lemons for the grapefruit. The peels for either of these fruits will need longer simmering times -- 30 to 40 minutes.

And, heck, if you're feeling frolicsome, you can substitute other citrus, too. Try lime. Try... bergamot. Try whatever floats your candying boat. Just remember to simmer until translucent and tender.

Dollars to donuts, what ever you try, it's going to end up tasting a damned sight better than the mass-processed crud you can get in the supermarket.

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