I'm a bit relieved that the holidays are behind us. I've definitely enjoyed this break from the routine, the excess, the time spent with family and friends, but now I'm feeling anxious to get on with 2012. I'm not one for resolutions, but my outlook for the New Year is aimed at helping sweet fiends find their bliss at home using great ingredients and love. Let's start this year off right, by making orangettes.
Orangettes are the ultimate candy for those who love the chocolate and orange flavor combination. They are brilliant in their simplicity, made of nothing but orange peel, sugar, and the best dark chocolate you can get your hands on. They are also relatively easy to make at home, have a long shelf life, and are quite beautiful. They're the perfect project for gifting or squirreling away for a stash.
One of the most alluring things about orangettes are their texture. I love how the snappy layer of dark chocolate gives way to the chewy, pithy center, and the leathery ribbon of orange zest. Unlike candied zest, where the objective is to painstakingly remove as much of the pith as possible, with orangettes we must embrace the zest to obtain that chewy, sweet texture within. For this, we carefully slice the whole peel, both the outer orange zest and the white, bitter pith, into strips.
To remove the bitter flavor and enhance the texture, the strips are blanched twice before simmering in simple syrup to infuse sweetness. This blanching serves the dual purpose of removing the bitter flavor associated with the pith and opening up the pores of the peel to accept the sugar. Once you've candied the zest, be sure to allow it time to dry (I like to let it sit overnight) before dipping in chocolate. For a chocolate shell that snaps when you bite it and is smooth and unblemished in appearance, use chocolate guru Liz Gutman's guide to tempering chocolate, and then, celebrate this sweet new year right by dipping some orangettes.