However I was very very wrong. Like most things, the store bought version does not represent how these taste when they are homemade. The candied peels are not bitter, instead they are intensely orange flavored and pleasantly sweet. When dipped in dark chocolate they taste like a gourmet chocolate orange and were snatched up quickly at the party I took them to.
The peels don't require any fancy ingredients or difficult steps, but they do take a bit of time because they need to cook in the sugar-water syrup. All you need is some oranges (or orange peels that you have saved) and some sugar.
I stirred mine a little bit too much towards the end which made the syrup crystallize. It didn't affect the taste or the end product but it did mean that I missed out on having left over orange syrup to add to drinks.
Dipping the peels in chocolate makes them delicious enough to wrap up and give away as gifts or bring to parties. I melted dark chocolate chips in one bowl and milk chocolate in another because I'm not really a dark chocolate person.
But I have to say, forget about the milk chocolate. It pales in comparison to the dark chocolate/ orange combo.
Candied Orange Peels
From Use Real Butter
4 oranges (or the peel from 4 oranges)
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
Chocolate of choice (choose dark!) for dipping
1. Juice the oranges
2. Scoop out insides, chop peel into strips
3. Place the peels in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and drain. Repeat three to four times. This blanching gets rid of the bitterness in the peels so don't skip this step
4. Once you are done blanching the peels mix the cup of water and 3 cups of sugar together in a pot and bring to a boil. Do not stir too much, once the sugar has dissolved try to avoid stirring altogether. Boil until the sugar reaches 230F or just before soft ball stage.
5. Add peels, reduce heat and simmer until the whites turn translucent. This will take 30+ minutes, mine took almost an hour.
6. Remove peels from syrup (save syrup! It is delicious and orange flavored and can be added to drinks and baking) and dry on racks with cookie sheets under them to catch any drips.
7. If using chocolate, wait till orange peels are dry (4-5 hours). Melt chocolate, dip in peels, and let set on a rack or a cookie sheet.