Every year around this time, I host a holiday cookie exchange. It was one of those things that kind of started on a lark, but then the next year people asked if I was going to host it again, so I did, and then the same thing happened the following year.
One year, I was too busy to do it and actually got phone calls asking if people had missed the evite and/or was everything okay?
It’s all rather gratifying to feel so appreciated.
Then again, you’d have to be a real Scrooge not to appreciate the event. I put all the leaves in my dining table, which groans under the weight of all the cookies. I like to bake, it’s true, but so do many of my friends. There’s not a Toll House in the bunch, and nobody has ever shamed themselves by showing up with a plastic box from Safeway.
Last year, I needed some candied orange peel for some recipe I planned to make – I don’t remember what – and I priced it out at Whole Foods (I know, I know). They wanted an egregious sum of money for orange peel, sugar, and water. But to give them the benefit of the doubt, it does take a bit of time to make candied peel – so that must be what we’re paying them for.
I’ll ignore the fact that the time is mostly spent letting them dry out. It’s the holidays, and I’m feeling generous. Tis the season and all that.
So I made the candied peel and it all disappeared from the cookie exchange table. Every last bit of it.
This year, I sent out my party invite and received several RSVP’s that inquired: Are you making that candied orange peel again?
Well, if something so simple makes my friends happy, then of course.
The recipe below works equally well with grapefruit peel. Probably lemon peel, too, but not with the lemons I bought – their peels were borderline intransigent. And one final note: when you finish cooking the peel in the sugar syrup, don’t throw out the syrup! You can store it and use it for Italian sodas and other things. It has a marvelous, intense orange flavor.
- 3 large oranges
- 4 cups sugar, divided
- 3 cups water
- Cut top and bottom off each orange, then cut peel on each orange into 4 vertical segments. Remove each segment (including white pith) in 1 piece. Cut into ¼-inch-wide strips. Cook in large pot of boiling water 15 minutes; drain, rinse, and drain again.
- Bring 3 cups sugar and 3 cups water to boil in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add peel. Return to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until peel is very soft, about 45 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove peel from pot; reserve the syrup for another use.
- Toss peel and 1 cup sugar on rimmed baking sheet, separating strips. Lift peel from sugar; transfer to racks. Let stand until coating is dry, 1 to 2 days.
This is my contribution to Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Why not swing by and see what other sweet surprises await?