Bright orange flavor shines in these picture perfect candied orange peels. Covered in sparkly sugar they look like icicles and taste like a sweet jellied orange candy. They pack and ship like a dream, making them the best DIY Christmas gift.
I have three Christmas desserts I make every year; Orange Cookies for my dad, Candied Cayenne Pecans for my mother-in-law, and Candied Orange Peel for my father-in-law. Without fail, come December I’ve got cases of oranges, 10-pound bags of sugar, and limitless pecan halves waiting in the wings to be fried, caramelized, and baked into a sweeter version of themselves.
This candied orange peel recipe is a throw back to my days at Mustard’s Grill where we would candy cases of lemon peel to garnish their epic Lemon Meringue Pie. The same technique can be used for lemons, oranges, or even grapefruit, though oranges and lemons work best.
Here’s how it works. First you need to remove the orange and white part of the orange peel. The white pith turns chewy and delicious after it has been candied.
Then cut the peel into 1/2-inch thick strips.
The next step is to blanch the peel three times in cold water. this removes a lot of the bitterness hidden in the pith.
After the strips have been blanched it is time to combine them with equal parts sugar and water.
Then bring that to a vigorous boil until the strips are soft and the white pith is mostly translucent. This takes some time, about an hour.
Once the strips are cooked, drain off the syrup into a heat-proof bowl. This syrup makes for a killer margarita and also gets really thick when cool, so it’s not a very good idea to pour it down the drain.
The last step is to toss the strips in sugar, a few at a time, until they are thoroughly coated. Save any leftover sugar for baking, it will have a delicious orange essence. I made orange cookies with the leftover sugar this year and they were pretty outstanding.
Let the strips lay out at room temperature in a single layer until they are dry. Then store in an airtight container for up to two weeks, or pack them up and give as gifts to friends near and far.
Looking for some other DIY Christmas Gifts? Here are a few more ideas: