Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Candied Grapefruit Peels

Some time ago I read Smitten Kitchen's post about candied grapefruit peels, in particular how they ended up a complete disaster: SK's recipe didn't specify "completely remove pith" - actually, the recipe (below) states specifically to retain the pith; nasty -so she didn't and as a result her peels were inedibly bitter. I was sad, because the pictures were so beautiful that it was difficult to believe the product didn't match the advertisement, and because I was tempted to try the recipe but was worried the problem had to be something other than pith. I wasn't willing to waste grapefruit just to experiment on some damn candy.

However, now that I am trying to create everything from breakfast to dinner to cocktail time with the 50-pound sack of grapefruit sitting on my sister-in-law's porch, I am no longer concerned with wasting fruit as anything I do with the things will at least serve the purpose of removing them from the porch. My time for candied grapefruit peels had come.

 And damned if these peels didn't turn out delicious. Slightly bitter, but in the pleasant way that offsets the sweetness of the syrup and sugar coating, the peels then leave a gentle coating of grapefruit oil in your mouth that refreshes your sinuses every time you breath in. At dinner the following evening my sister-in-law Carol combined a peel with some goat cheese on a cracker and, just to warn you, this combination is incredibly delicious and you may find yourself eating an entire package of cheese. Just sayin'.

Be sure to use the correct size of pot.
A couple of notes: I didn't want to peel the grapefruit first and be left with segments begging to be eaten or used immediately before they turned. Instead I juiced four grapefruit, sliced the peel, then boiled the whole mess. After draining I removed the pulp and pith by scraping it off with a knife. While this creates an explosion of grapefruit mess around your working space, I found it easier to remove the pith this way.

When it comes to drying the peels (after they have cooked in the sugar syrup) do not skimp on the drying time. I started this whole process late in the afternoon, so they didn't get to the drying stage until 9:30 at night (there was also dinner in there, but you get the idea that it was late.) Not willing to leave the peels on the counter overnight I doused them with sugar and packed them away. Doused, you see, not dusted: the syrup was still too thick to allow anything other than a centimeter thick coating around the peels. While my niece, husband and sister-in-law loved the extra-sweet peels, my other sister-in-law and I preferred it when I knocked off much of the sugar. Either way, enjoy!

That's a lot of sugar.
 Candied Grapefruit Peels
Jacques Torres, slightly modified
4 grapefruits
Water, to cover peels
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup sugar, optional
26 ounces bittersweet chocolate, tempered, optional

1. Using a sharp knife, cut each grapefruit into quarters. Remove the fruit from the peel and remove as much pith as possible. Save the fruit for another use. Slice each quarter peel on a diagonal into strips about 1/2-inch wide. If you cut them evenly, they will look nicer when displayed.

2. Place the sliced grapefruit peels in a nonreactive 4-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan and add enough water to cover the peels by about 1-inch. Place over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat and strain. Return only the peels to the saucepan, cover again with fresh water, and repeat the boiling and draining process three more times. It is really important to change the water because it retains the bitterness of the peel.

3. After the fourth boil, drain the water as before and return the peels to the saucepan. Add the sugar and enough water to cover the peels by 1-inch. Place over low heat and let simmer for 2 hours. During this time, the sugar will sweeten and preserve the natural flavor of the peels. After 2 hours, they will be soft and translucent and the syrup will be thick. Let the peels cool in the syrup and keep them stored in the syrup, refrigerated, in an airtight container until you are ready to serve. They will keep this way for up to three weeks.

4. When ready to use, allow the peels to drain on a wire rack for a few hours to remove the excess syrup. Put the rack over a baking sheet so the syrup does not drip all over the work surface.

5. Once fully drained, you have three options for serving: First, you can serve them as they are. Second, you can place the peels in a medium-sized bowl filled with granulated sugar. Roll the peels around in the sugar until they are well coated. Third, you can dip the sugared peels into the bittersweet chocolate. Dip two thirds of each sugared peel into the bittersweet chocolate. Gently wipe the excess chocolate from the end of each peel before placing on parchment paper. The chocolate should set in a few minutes if it is tempered and the kitchen is not too hot.

Whatever variation you choose, present the peels on a plate or in a small bowl or in petits fours cups.
Once the peels have been sugared and dipped in chocolate, they can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days.

No comments:

Post a Comment