Not too long ago I bought a box of chocolate dipped oranges from www.bissingers.com. Turns out that Al’s wild about them, but mentioned in passing that he thought they’d be better without the chocolate (what?!), and wondered how they were made.
Turns out it’s a process called glace, and it’s pretty time consuming if you do it the traditional way they do it in France. Think of fruit preserving for months in a sugar solution, and then sealed away to age for a few years. (Julia Child has an interesting news clip on it from 1983.) That just wouldn’t do for a self-gratification girl like me, though, so the research continued. I did eventually stumble upon an Americanized recipe that shortens the time frame to two weeks (go us!), and decided to give it a go.
I actually started this process a little over a week ago, so I’m coming in on day 8 with the post. The basics are this: scrub some oranges, slice them in rounds, blanch, ice bath, pull out the seeds, and soak them overnight in a sugary water solution. It’s a good idea to weigh them down so they’ll stay submerged in the syrup. I managed this with an appetizer plate and a coffee mug:
Every day after that, drain the syrup off in a saucepan, add 100g of sugar, bring it to a boil, and then pour it back over the slices. The recipe recommends keeping them in a cool, dark place, so mine sleep in this cupboard cave next to the pots & pans:
Now, 8 days later, the oranges have started to take on a gorgeous shine, and they syrup continues to get thicker and thicker, slowly approaching the consistency of honey. Check out the shine…
Can’t wait to see what they look like at the end of the full two weeks. I might even let them go a bit longer, so I can do the “drying in the oven” process on a weekend when I’ll have plenty of time to keep an eye on them. Full recipe that I used is below. Enjoy!
Candy Slices Recipe, adapted from Brownie Points
- Clean three oranges (I used six) by scrubbing under warm water.
- Slice into thin rounds. This candying method worked on all thickness of slices I tried up to 1/4 inch thick.
- The slices can be kept as circles, or cut into halves or quarters (hemi-circles and quarter-circles).
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
- Have a bowl of ice water nearby.
- Add the sliced oranges to the boiling water (may need to be done in batches depending on the size of your pot). Scoop from the boiling water when the slices float to the top and place into ice water to cool.
- When cool, drain and remove the slices from the ice water and transfer to a container large enough to hold all of the slices.
- Bring to a boil: 1 kg of sugar and 600 g of water. This step is to just dissolve the sugar (not to cook the syrup).
- Pour the hot syrup over the orange slices. If the orange slices float, weigh them down to keep them fully submerged. Weighing down method I used the first week: placed a plate on top of the orange slices and a glass jar of water on top of the plate.
- Store the submerged orange slices in a dark cool place, like a cupboard or closet for the duration of the candying. I didn’t refrigerate them.
- Each day increase the sugar content of the orange slice sugar solution. Do this by draining off the sugar solution the slices are submerged in, add 100g of sugar, heat the solution to just dissolve the sugar, and pour back over the orange slices.
- Complete this increase-sugar step daily for two weeks.
- I didn’t follow the schedule as written: I skipped a couple days of the increase-sugar schedule, and just resumed the increase-sugar step when I was able to. My impression is that this recipe is not very picky about increasing the sugar each day. I think the variable of time is important though- don’t try to shorten the duration of this recipe.
- Storage: the orange slices may be stored in the sugar solution indefinitely. No need to refrigerate, they can be stored in a cool dark place, like a cupboard.
- At the end of the soaking period, remove the fruit from the syrup and arrange it on a wire rack over a tray. Dry in the oven at the lowest setting until the surface no longer feels sticky.
- If you haven’t done enough work by this point, you can also plunge each piece of fruit into boiling water for an instant and roll it in granulated sugar to coat the surface.