Hello again, and orangettes

December 16, 2009

Well, where to begin…

Maybe I should start by changing this blog’s name to “The Biannual Blogger.”

Ouch. Oh my, that feels a little harsh.  Perhaps I should instead come around more often to at least say hello. Yes, we’ll try that first.

Ahem. Hello.

Hmm, this could work, I’m feeling better already.

Enough pandering around, lets dive into the real reason I am here. I have been a busy bee here in Iowa.  As I finished my first semester of Culinary school yesterday, I immediately got down to the business of Christmas baking.  You should know that I have high aspirations of producing beautiful gift boxes of orangettes, buttery shortbread assortments, toffee, and perhaps even a few chewy caramels.  Though I have only candied the orange peel for the orangettes, I remain undaunted.  But for the sake of today, let’s focus on the orangettes.  Such a simple treat to make and perfect for the holidays.

What you need:

2 orange peels

4 oz chocolate bar

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups water

“That’s it?” you may ask.

Yes, that’s it!

The first thing to do when you decide to make orangettes, it to buy the right orange.  I went with a California Navel because it was what my supermarket had to offer, but ignore the name and look instead for an orange with a substantially thick peel. You are going to want a good layer of white pith under that festive orange skin to soak up all the sugar it can in order to counter the bitterness that is held in the zest.

Next, consider your chocolate. I prefer my orangettes to be draped in a lovely coat of dark chocolate, but if your loyalties lie in the milk chocolate camp, never mind me and go the milk chocolate route!  Just be sure to buy a great bar with good snap. I am a fan of Scharffen Berger, Askinosie, and Valrhona chocolate bars, just to name a few.

Now that you have your oranges and chocolate, its time to get started.

The first thing I do is peel my oranges.  To make uniform slices, cut off the top and bottom of your orange peel, careful to not cut into the sections.  Then score opposite sides of the orange, as if your drawing a longitude line on a globe (boy, am I the biggest nerd ever…)  This should give you two orange peel halves that you can easily separate from the orange. Then cut the two halves into quarter inch strips.  Reserve your juicy orange sections for a post-baking snack.  Next, scrounge around your pots and pans until you find one that is about medium size and decently heavy.  The heavier your pot, the less likely your sugar is to burn.  Burnt orangettes are not good orangettes.

Put your sugar and water into your pot over medium heat.  We are making a simple syrup to boil the orange peels in.  Be sure your sugar is dissolved in the water before you bring it to a boil.  Once the mixture looks clear, bring the heat to medium high, and put your orange peel strips into the syrup.  Then boil away!  The orangettes are done when the white part of the peel looks saturated with syrup, almost a translucent orange color.  The syrup should also be very reduced by this time.  If your syrup is very reduced, but your peels don’t look done, add more water to the pot.

Once you are satisfied with how your orangettes look, remove them from the pot and lay them out on wax paper to cool and dry.  This may take a few hours.

The finishing step is to dip your orangettes in chocolate.  Put an inch or two of water into a medium saucepan, and put over medium heat. Then find a glass bowl that will fit over the pot without touching the water.  put your chopped chocolate in this bowl and stir until melted and smooth. Turn the heat to low, and begin dipping your orangettes. I like to dip half of the orange strip into the chocolate, leaving half exposed.  Line them up on piece of wax paper and pop them in the freezer to cool and set. Then, enjoy, er…I mean, box them as darling gifts and give them away!

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