I love to make these every November to get me in the mood for holiday baking. I've tried many different recipes and approaches, and this approach - while longer than most - has given me the most reliable, soft peels with a strong orange flavor without the bitterness. The ingredient amounts vary according to how many peels you're candying but I've provided some rough guidelines for this. The most important thing is that you make enough simple syrup to keep the citrus pieces mostly covered during the candying process. The candying process is a wonderful opportunity to add flavors, so feel free to use other flavors than what I chose, or amp it up with the ones that I did. Once candied, you can dip them in chocolate; add them to sweet yeast breads you might bake for the holidays; or use them as cake / tart decorations. For planning purposes, this can be a 4-day process! —TheWimpyVegetarian
15 large oranges yields about 15 cups of candied peel
Day 1: Cut the citrus fruit in half, squeeze out the juice, reserving the juice for other purposes. (Like sorbet!) Put the citrus halves in a very large, non-reactive pot or container and fill it with water, adding 1 Tablespoon salt for every quart of water. A large soup pot can work well for this or large plastic containers. Let sit overnight.
Day 2: Drain the peels and remove all the membranes leaving the pith behind. I have found a grapefruit spoon to be very effective for this.
Put the peels in a large non-reactive pot, cover with water, and the water to a boil. Boil the peels for a couple minutes and drain, discarding the water. Repeat this two more times always using fresh water to start with.
Make a simple syrup with equal amounts of sugar and water. I recommend you start with 3 cups of each. If you don't need it all, you can have it available if you need to add a little more part way through the candying. Boil for 10 minutes to ensure the sugar is completely liquified and the liquid is clear. Now you're ready to start the candy the peels.
Reduce the simple syrup to a simmer and add the cinnamon sticks and cloves. Stir, adding the brandy. Add the peels and cook for four hours at a low simmer.
Test the peel by tasting it after four hours. If it still tastes raw, continue to simmer for at least another hour. To caramelize, increase the heat to a soft boil, and continue to candy the peels for 45 -60 minutes or until the syrup has turned a deep amber color. If the syrup gets too thick, add a little water to thin.
Turn off the heat and let the peels sit in the simple syrup overnight.
Day 3: Remove the peel from simple syup and drain on cooling racks placed over cookie sheets or newspaper until tacky to the touch. This can take anywhere from an hour to a day. I store them in the oven on racks overnight if they don't dry the first day.
When done, either roll in sugar or leave clear. If I roll them in sugar, I keep the sugar afterwards in a special tupperware container for cooking/baking when I want to add an orange or lemon flavor to a dish that calls for sugar.
The candied peel will keep for several months in a jar.