While wandering randomly around the farmer’s market this morning looking for anything that might possibly go with chocolate, I ran across a stall selling all kinds of fruit preserves. I took a closer look, and lo, they had candied citrus peels! Bergamot, blood orange, Meyer lemon, and one other kind of citrus peel which I can’t remember. I bought a jar of the candied bergamot peel and (needless to say) couldn’t possibly wait to taste it. I opened it on the spot, and wow! Fantastic. Floral, intensely orangey, sweet, and bitter. Intense. Really, really, really good.
It definitely has a place in my chocolate stores this year. I plan to dry it out, dip it in chocolate, and have chocolate covered bergamot peel.
Of course, this leaves me curious (we tigresses are simply large cats, after all 🙂 ) what other kinds of candied citrus peel are like, and how one makes them. I don’t have access to bergamot (more’s the pity – I would kill to get my hands on some), but I do have access to regular oranges, limes, etc.
So I bought three or four Valencia oranges, zested them, blanched the peel (recommended by both recipes for candied orange peel that I read), and am currently simmering them in a solution of 1.5 cups sugar, 1.5 cups water, a squeeze of corn syrup to inhibit crystallization, two or three tablespoons of orange blossom honey, and a pinch and a dash of just about every sweet spice I could lay my hands on. Clove, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, allspice, ginger. I’m simmering it for 2-3 hours (basically until I go to bed tonight) and will let it sit overnight in the sugar solution before bringing it back to a boil in the morning, boiling down the syrup a bit, then removing the peel and letting it dry. I think that should give the sugar time to penetrate the peel.
If that goes well I may try some experiments with candied lemon and candied lime peel. Too bad Buddha’s Hands (the citrus that looks like a cross between a grapefruit and a squid) aren’t in season, or I’d try those. I think candied lime peel has real potential – maybe when I go buy cream tomorrow, I’ll buy some limes as well.
It’s really wonderful having time to play with candymaking. It lets me try things I can’t do when I’m doing my annual production run – that’s usually done on a series of consecutive weekends, in between a 50-hour-a-week job, training for whatever cycling event I’m doing this year, and doing the laundry. There’s only enough time to experiment with a few of the things I’d like to try – never enough time in the day! So I look forward to two entire weeks nearly dedicated to candy.
I’m still bummed over missing that great job opportunity, but not nearly as much today. Creative frenzy seems to be a nice antidote to job depression. And I have another phone screen coming up on Monday (albeit for a job that doesn’t sound nearly as interesting), so it’s not like things aren’t rolling along.