Candied Caramelized Orange Peel with Cinnamon, Cloves and Brandy

November  6, 2009
0 Ratings
  • Serves 15 large oranges yields about 15 cups of candied peel
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 15 Oranges, preferable thick skinned
  • Water
  • Salt
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 5 Cinnamon sticks
  • 10 Cloves
  • 1/3 cup Brandy
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Turn off the heat and let the peels sit in the simple syrup overnight.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. The candied peel will keep for several months in a jar.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Susan
  • laurel
  • gingerroot
  • AntoniaJames
  • TheWimpyVegetarian

13 Reviews

Susan April 7, 2014
Maybe I missed it in there, but I assume at some point you slice the halves into strips. Do you do this right after scraping the insides out?
laurel November 13, 2013
I've been doing a lot of citrus candying, and am always curious - to you think the boil/drain/repeat steps cause any loss of flavor? Or do you think it's just the bitter compounds that are released during this process?
TheWimpyVegetarian November 13, 2013
In my own experience, it's to release the bitter compounds, and I'm sure some flavor is unavoidably lost. But you can always add a little orange extract to the candying mixture if you want a stronger orange flavor.
laurel November 13, 2013
Never mind - found my answer with Harold McGee. Bitter compounds are water soluble, aromatic/flavorful oils in the skin are not.
laurel November 13, 2013
Oh good idea! (Sorry, didn't see your comment before I added my other one)

TheWimpyVegetarian November 13, 2013
Harold McGee is a fabulous resource! I had thought I was losing some flavor too, so I'm glad you posted this additional information! Thanks!!
FayD December 3, 2012
I have made this 3 times now and just have to write and thank you for submitting the recipe. It is awesome and addicting. I dip mine in chocolate and they are so GOOD! Everyone on my Christmas list is getting some of this. Thanks for sharing!
gingerroot November 2, 2011
These look and sound wonderful, ChezSuzanne!!
TheWimpyVegetarian November 2, 2011
Thanks so much gingerroot!
AntoniaJames December 10, 2009
I'm going to make some and use them in Lebkuchen (the German traditional cookie . . . . . I posted a recipe for a gingery variation), the next time I make a batch. I still have a huge quantity in the fridge from my marathon cookie-bake/truffle-make over the weekend. I grew up in a house with 6 kids, so the only way I know how to make cookies is in huge quantities!!! Do you use navel oranges for this? The only organic oranges I've seen have rather thin skins . . . . .
TheWimpyVegetarian December 11, 2009
I use navel, or anything with a thicker skin. If they have the thin skins - almost like clementines, I would slice the top and bottom off and then make thin horizontal slices, removing the seeds, and candy the entire slice. It would make for a beautiful decorative topping for a tart or cake that could be slightly overlapped. I'll need to look at your gingery version of a Lebkuchen - it sounds great. I'm also getting ready to make some holiday sweet yeast breads - which I only indulge in this time of year - where I'll use some of these candied orange peels. I also make candied lemon peels following the exact same recipe except I put a couple vanilla beans into the simple syrup for flavoring. Have fun!
AntoniaJames December 9, 2009
Lovely . . . . . simply lovely. I've never been a big fan of candied citrus peel, but I think you may have converted me ;o) I'm definitely going to try this one. I think I'll use Drambuie . . . . . Thanks for posting this!
TheWimpyVegetarian December 10, 2009
Thanks. Truthfully, this is the only way I really like them. It's a little time consuming, I admit, but really worth it. I have friends now that put in their requests for these every year.