Many Italian desserts call for candied orange peel. The usual grocery store variety lacks the essence of the orange that is essential in flavoring Sicilian desserts. It is relatively simple to make your own. I like to add a little orange flavoring to intensify the orange taste but it is not necessary. The candied peel can be stored up to a year in the freezer – readily available to use in your desserts.
CANDIED ORANGE PEEL
(Scorcia di Arancio Candita/Scorza di Arancio Candita)
Difficulty Rating: Easy
3 large thick-skinned Navel or Cara Cara Oranges
3 cups sugar
1½ cups water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon bakig soda
1/2 teaspoon orange flower water or 1/4 teaspoon orange flavoring (optional)
Special Equipment: Candy or digital cooking thermometer
Score the peels of the oranges lengthwise in six to eight equal sections. Carefully remove the peels from the fruit and cut into 1/4-inch wide strips. Place the orange peels and baking soda in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, cook for five minutes. Drain the water and replace with fresh water and bring to a boil again and cook 5 minutes longer. Transfer peels to a colander and drain well.
Using a small stock pot with lid, add the sugar, 1 ½ cups of water, and orange flower water. Stir together for 2 minutes to dissolve most of the sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat without stirring. When the mixture reaches 230 degrees F. Add orange peels and cook for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in orange flower water. Cover with a lid and let it for several hours or until syrup is cool. Transfer peels to a cooling rack placed over a cookie sheet and let drain for several hours or overnight. The peels should be slightly sticky but dry to touch. Roll in granulated sugar and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days or keep frozen for up to 12 months.
You can also try to candy lemon and grapefruit peels. Thick skinned citrus fruits work the best.