Citrus peels, that is. I woke up from a mad citrus-candying rampage today to realize that I have not one, not two, not three, but four kinds of citrus peels candying in small vats in my kitchen. And not just garden-variety citrus, but exotics like kaffir lime, Meyer lemon, yuzu, and grapefruit with rose geranium. (OK, grapefruit is pretty garden-variety, but mixed with rose geranium syrup it’s both exotic and very yummy.)
And that doesn’t count the 1.5 quarts of candied citron that I put up in jars today. I think that once all the shouting is done, I’ll have about two gallons of freshly candied citrus peel. What does one DO with all that? Well, let’s see, there are the neighbors, the neighbors’ friends, the coworkers, the coworkers’ friends, that houseful of drug addicts down the street…surely some of them would appreciate some candied citrus? Sort of like zucchini?
No, seriously, most of it will go either into chocolates or fruitcakes, since I don’t typically eat much sugary stuff. The stuff keeps indefinitely, so I can use it over the course of the next 2 years without worrying much about deterioration of quality. And, of course, it will make the occasional Christmas present to friends who are equally crazy about candied citrus. (But not too many. You have to be on Santa’s very good list to get some of this stuff!)
Anyway, the next week will basically be about completing the candying process. Every day, raise the sugar content of the syrup a little bit more (usually by boiling it down), then pour the boiling syrup over the peels and let them soak for a day or two, to equalize the amount of sugar in the peels. This is a slow process, and can’t be hurried; if you try, you get leathery peels as the sugar dehydrates the top layer without penetrating to the center of the peels. It will take a week to a week and a half to finish candying them, during which all four vats must be reboiled daily. (I never said this stuff was easy!)
Once that’s done, next weekend will be fudge time. This year I’m shaking things up a little bit. I’m going to keep the white chocolate lavender Meyer lemon fudge, because that’s my personal favorite, and I’m going to keep the coconut tequila lime fudge and the chocolate-dipped coconut almond fudge, because those are Mike’s favorites. (There are advantages to sleeping with the chef! 🙂 ) However, the chocolate macadamia fudge is going bye-bye for this year, to be replaced by chocolate cherry fudge with almonds. It’s an adaptation of one of my all-time favorite chocolate confections, cherry almond clusters. I came up with the formulation shortly after graduating college – it’s very simple, just mix dried sour cherries and almonds with tempered chocolate and drop onto trays in spoonfuls. It’s simultaneously tart, sweet, chewy, crunchy, and chocolaty – heavens, what’s not to like?
Alas, the clusters are too big to fit into today’s chocolate boxes (a single cluster takes up the space of 2-3 bonbons), but I’m hoping to reincarnate them in a fudge recipe. If nothing else, it will be a pleasant break from chocolate macadamia fudge, which has also been a mainstay for several years.
The last of the fudges is going to be maple walnut or maple pecan fudge, which I realize is practically a cliche, but I’ve never made it before, and I’m the chef, so I get to do what I want. (Insert a cheerful “nyah, nyah, nyah nyah nyah!” here.) I’ve been trying to think of a “twist” to make it more original, but then, there’s a reason that things get traditional. They work!! So I may just make it “straight up”, without edits.
After that, which will occupy me most if not all next weekend, I will go to work on the caramels, toffees, and candied citrus peels. This is where the chocolate tempering machine comes out. For caramels, I’m only planning the traditional chocolate covered jasmine – vanilla – orange blossom honey caramels. These have appeared in every chocolate box since time immemorial, and probably always will, because they are my favorite item in every box. I love these. I could eat entire buckets of these. You couldn’t pay me enough to not make them. Yum!
The citrus peels…now that will be tough. I have seven types and can only fit three. Seville orange, yuzu, bergamot, citron, rose geranium grapefruit, kaffir lime, Meyer lemon. I think it will be yuzu, bergamot, and Meyer lemon – but the kaffir lime is tempting, too! It all depends on what they taste like when they come out of the sugar syrup. Clearly I will have to do some sampling. 🙂
And, just in case you thought I’d totally forgotten about weaving amidst all this food porn, here are two woven shibori drafts that I came up with today:
Here there are diamonds in the center of each of the squares that will be a solid color once the cloth is dyed.
I plan to get started on this tomorrow, but am not entirely sure whether I will get around to it. A friend from Colorado is visiting family in Sacramento, so I’m going to drive over there tomorrow and visit her. It’s a 5-hour round trip, so I might be too tired to weave by the time I get back. But I hope not – I’m dying to see how this new draft weaves up!