You didn’t really see that one coming, did you?
OK, so whilst Orangettes are not one of the first recipes that spring to mind when you think chocolate, they are charmingly pretty with their orange stained glass peel and their dipped velvet chocolate peplums…I couldn’t resist them.
Orangettes, whilst time consuming to produce, are a simple confection, crystallised (or candied) citrus peel dipped in dark, dark melted chocolate. For the guest whose tooth is not as sweet as some, this is a perfect treat. Tangy and chewy, crisp and melty. Like a grown up penny sweet.
There is something about their graceful, slender, almost transparent figures, Chanel-like, draped fashionably in dark chocolate that is so intrinsically Parisian that you feel as though you could be sitting at the Café de Flore sipping a Pastis and nibbling an Orangette on the side.
Whilst discussing poetry with Rimbaud in a 19th Parisian Café would be a truly delightful way to spend an afternoon, making Orangettes is fun too.
There are many recipes out there, utilising a simple sugar syrup to poach the peel in, but if you add a vanilla pod, some peppercorns and star anise as Pierre Herme does in his fabulous book, Chocolate Desserts, you can infuse your peel with an ethereal flavour. The scent of the syrup is the essence of Christmas itself and these Orangettes just cry out to be served on a cold Winter’s day with some glog.
ORANGETTES – makes a lot!
5 Oranges, 6 Lemons or 4 Grapefruit
4 Cups Water
2.5 Cups Sugar (I used white granulated)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
10 Peppercorns, bashed (I used Szechuan)
1 Piece Star Anise
Pulp & Bean Whole Vanilla Pod
To prepare the oranges, cut into quarters, remove the pulp and slice the peel into thin strips. Using a very sharp knife, remove the pith as method shown on picture above (thanks Paul!), almost as though you were filleting a fish.
Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to boil and blanch the peel for two minutes. Drain in a colander and run under the cold tap for 2 minutes. Repeat this twice more.
Place all the remaining ingredients in a small pan and bring to the boil. Add the thrice blanched peel and turn heat down to a low simmer. Cover and leave for about an hour and a half.
Remove from the heat, leave covered and allow to steep in your amazingly perfumed syrup overnight.
The next day, remove the strips from the syrup and leave to dry on a cooling rack for at least half a day.
To coat in chocolate, melt 100g of darkest chocolate over a double boiler (or in the microwave) and, using cooking tweezers or small tongs (or whatever impliment you have that works for you), dip each piece of peel, coating fully, partially or mostly and leave to set on a baking sheet.
You can omit the dipping stage and just store the crystallised peel in a jar in the fridge where it would be delicious as is or perfect chopped up and added to cakes or desserts.