Winter citrus lends much needed brightness to the depths of chilly winter. After enjoying some especially wonderful Valencia Oranges this season I couldn't bare to waste one bit of their fruit... and so these Candied Orange Peels (and bonus, an orange scented simple-syrup!) are the happy result of repurposing their discarded peels.
If orange-creamsicles dreamed of a winter season reincarnation, they would aspire to be these candied orange peels with creamy vanilla undertones. Make your own summer-sunshine dreams come true with a few Valencia oranges and a double dose of vanilla.
While these are delightful to nibble as-is (hello, movie snacks!) you must promise me to add some to one of your favorite baked recipes. Use them anywhere dried fruits are suggested. I've had wonderful results when added to oatmeal cookies, carrot cake, Irish soda bread, cranberry orange bundt cake, and even a savory chicken and sweet potato tagine.
Recipe Notes: You can use this same recipe to "candy" any citrus peels you have available, a mixture of orange and lemon in the same batch is particularly nice. If using grapefruit be sure to remove as much of the white pith as possible to avoid bitterness.
Food52's original recipe calls for one whole vanilla bean, feel free to swap a whole bean for the extract/paste combination. The first time I attempted this recipe I used equal parts vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste as that is what I had in my pantry at the time, since then I have switched to using just vanilla extract. I find that 1 to 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract will do the trick very nicely. Alternatively, if vanilla isn't your thing, you can choose to reduce or omit the ingredient entirely.
Double Vanilla Candied Orange Peels
- Orange Peels from 4 to 6 small, organic oranges (about 3 cups)
- 2 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
- 2 cups Water
- 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract (See Notes for suggestions)
- 1 tablespoon of Vanilla Bean Paste
- Additional Granulated Sugar, to toss (about 2 cups)
Slice the Fruit Peel: Remove the orange peel from the fruit, peel with your hands or cut with a paring knife. Lay the strips flat and slice them into thin slivers about 1/4" wide, any length is fine. It is perfectly fine if some flesh from the fruit is attached, but you want more peel and pith than fruit.
Boil, Drain, Repeat: Place the slivers of orange peel into a small pot and completely cover with water. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Drain off the hot water and then refill the pot with clean water to once again cover the orange peels. Repeat this process a total of three (3) times. Be sure to use fresh water each time. This is an essential process as it removes the bitterness from the peel.
After the third round of boiling & draining, set aside the orange peels and thoroughly clean the saucepan with soap and water to remove any traces of the orange peel's bitter white pith.
Make the sugar-syrup: Return the now clean saucepan to stove top. Over medium heat combine: 2 cups of water, 2 1/2 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract and/or 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and then add the orange peels. Bring the mixture to a boil, then immediately reduce to a gentle simmer (just barely bubbling). Continue to simmer for 2 hours. Stir the mixture every half hour or so to be sure the orange peels are thoroughly coated by the sugar-syrup.
Drip Dry Overnight: Lay parchment or wax paper under wire cooling racks. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the (very hot!) orange peels to the cooling racks. Avoid overlapping the pieces and allow them to drip-dry for 6 to 8 hours, or overnight. They will remain very sticky.
TIP: Save the sugar-syrup to use as a "simple syrup". Use it to coat a ham, make a glaze for baked goodies, or add it to mixed drinks, lemonade, even coffee or tea for a citrus-vanilla sugar boost. It would be especially lovely in an Old Fashioned.
Toss with Sugar: The next day, place about 2 cups White Sugar into a large mixing bowl. Working in small batches, toss the orange peels in the sugar until thoroughly coated. Add more sugar to the bowl as needed. Store candied orange peels and any excess white sugar in an airtight container.
Adapted from: Food 52