(With apologies to William Carlos Williams)
I have candied
that were in
you were probably
they were not keeping
Here we are at last—the big day. We’ve looked at sectioning citrus, and zesting citrus, and making luscious citrus syrup. Now, finally, we’re ready to candy all those peels that we’ve saved (well, not the ones that we zested, but stick around and I’ll even show you a bonus way to use those—tomorrow).
Candied citrus peels are one of my favorite holiday confections (and quite popular among my list of recipients). There are a lot of steps involved, but as candy making goes, they’re relatively easy—you don’t even need a candy thermometer. I use the recipe found in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, with only very minor alteration.
The hardest part is saving enough to give as gifts!
It seems to be human nature to polarize. But somehow, when they handed out the genes for decisiveness, I was off somewhere trying to decide what to have on my waffles for breakfast. When confronted with life’s deep, fundamental questions—you know—”Are you a cat person or a dog person?”, “Baseball or football?”, “Chocolate or vanilla?”, I answer “Erm, sort of,” “Well, not really,” and “Why must I choose?!?” If, like me, you hear the question, “Chocolate or vanilla?” and wish you didn’t have to choose, then these truffles are a firm and decisive “Yes!”.
Chocolate and vanilla, though they are often treated almost as opposites, have a lot in common. Both are derived from seed pods of tropical plants that were originally native to Central and South America—the cacao tree and the vanilla orchid. Both undergo lengthy and labor intensive processes to develop them into the forms and flavors we recognize as chocolate and vanilla.
They share a similar history as well. The cacao tree was likely first cultivated by the Olmecs, who introduced it to the Maya; vanilla orchids were first cultivated by the Totonac Indians. Both products ended up being adopted by the Aztecs, and vanilla was one of a number of ingredients that they used to flavor their chocolate drinks. The Spanish were the first Europeans to encounter the two flavors, and they in turn brought them back to Europe. The words ‘chocolate’ and ‘vanilla’ are Spanish in origin.
Now about those truffles…