Candied fruit, otherwise know as crystallised or glacé is fruit that has been boiled in a sugar syrup to help preserve and to create a sweet, aromatic and brightly coloured ingredient for baking.
Recipes for preserving fruit with sugar have existed since the 14th century.
The sugar prevents the build-up of micro-organisms that would soil the fruit so it allowed it to be carried on longer journeys.
Food preservation methods such as this were famous in Arabic regions and still are, if you visit the Middle East there are wonderful displays of all sorts of candied fruits, piled high in the markets.
The candied fruit will last up to eight weeks in an airtight container.
You can experiment with limes, lemons or grapefruit using the same recipe as I have given for orange peel.
If it is possible I would recommend you use unwaxed or organic citrus fruit for the recipe.
Dry the slices of peel on a wire rack after you remove them from the syrup.
If you wish to coat your peel in caster sugar allow to dry until slightly tacky then roll in the sugar.
Simply dipping the slices in melted dark chocolate makes a beautifully tasty treat.
For the florentines you can use any chocolate that you wish or a combination of white, milk and dark.
Chocolate and orange brownie cake
Grease and line an 8in deep tart case.
Heat your oven to 180C.
Add the chocolate, caster sugar, muscovado sugar and butter into a saucepan and melt everything together. Set aside to cool.
Fold in the eggs, flour, orange zest, baking powder and cocoa. Stir in the chopped peel.
Scoop the mixture into the tart case and bake for 25 minutes. Set aside to cool while making the ganache.
Heat the cream until shivering and stir in the small pieces of chocolate until melted. Set aside to cool slightly and then coat the cake. Decorate with the candied orange strips.
Candied orange peel
Quarter the oranges and remove the flesh so you are just left with the peel and some pith.
Add the orange peel to some boiling water and discard the water afterwards, to remove some of the bitterness.
At the same time bring 600g of the sugar and 600mls of water to the boil until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the drained peel to the syrup.
Allow to bubble gently for a half an hour until the peel has become translucent.
Remove the peel with a slotted spoon.
Toss the warm peel in some extra caster sugar or leave plain. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
Orange and almond florentines
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment.
Add the caster sugar, flour and butter into a saucepan until melted and combined.
Stir in the cream over a low heat.
Add the nuts and candied orange peel and stir everything together.
Spoon a series of dessert spoons of the mixture onto the lined tray. Leave at least an inch between each florentine.
Bake for just less than a quarter of an hour, until golden.
Heat the chocolate in a metal bowl over boiling water. Do not stir while it is melting.
Dip the base of the florentines into the chocolate, allow to set.
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