“If you have ever tasted handmade candied citrus peel, you know it is completely different than store bought,” says Scarlett Kilzer, owner of Miam Cake in Columbus, Ohio. “It is fresh with a slightly bitter finish, which is one of the lovely characteristics of citrus peel.” Here, the cake designer, who puts a sophisticated, fine art-spin on her beautiful creations, shares her wonderfully simple recipe for the sweet treat. A perfect winter indulgence that would be a great hostess gift, Kilzer suggests enjoying it plain (“It is addictively delicious,” she says), dipping it in dark chocolate for a delightful contrast of flavors, or chopping it up and using it in quick breads, muffins, or savory dishes that pair well with citrus.
Candied Citrus Peel
Yields 3-4 cups
- 4 oranges, 2 grapefruits, or 6-8 lemons, organic or unsprayed, cut into quarters (or sixths, if using grapefruit)
- Filtered water
- Fine sugar
Place the peels in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan and fill the pan with cold water, leaving just enough space for the water to boil without spilling over (note: purists will candy only one type of peel in the same pot, but for every purist there are happy rule-breakers). Bring the water to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat, then simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the peel and refill the pot with enough water to cover the peels. Bring the water to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the peels, and reserve the water.
Measure the water from the second blanch. For every 100 millileters (a little less than half a cup) of water, add 100 grams (half a cup) of sugar to the pot. Place the peels in the pot of sugar water, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Drain the peels and put them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Turn on the oven to the lowest setting and put the peels in the oven for 30 minutes to dry out a bit (they will still hold some moisture when you remove them from the oven). Let the peels cool completely. Dust the peels with sugar. For extra flavor, add a dusting of your favorite spice.
“Blanching rids fruit of excess harshness and astringency, and tenderizes it,” Kilzer notes, adding that as you experiment with the recipe, you may decide to increase the number of times you blanch the peels in order to get the taste and consistency to your liking. You should also take into account the fact that even fruit of the same variety can differ in texture, skin thickness, and bitterness.