The bittersweet candied peel can be used to garnish a tart or a cake. Or you could chop and add to a cake batter, scone or biscuit dough. To dress it up, dip one end in melted dark chocolate and leave to set and serve with an after-dinner coffee.
3 unblemished lemons and 2 oranges, washed and dried
1½ cups caster sugar
1½ cups water
1 cup caster sugar
Cut each piece of fruit into quarters lengthwise then remove the flesh. Use a sharp knife to cut off excess white pith if the fruit is very thick-skinned, leaving a thin layer.
Cut into long ½cm wide strips.
Place the strips in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes, then drain. Place them back in the saucepan and add enough water to cover by 5cm. Place a heatproof plate on top to keep them submerged and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes until the peels have started to soften. Drain.
Place the sugar and water in the same saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the peel and reduce the heat to low. Simmer very gently for 50–60 minutes until the peel looks translucent, stirring occasionally for even cooking.
Carefully lift the peel out of the saucepan and place on a cooling rack set over a lipped baking tray, spreading it out in a single layer. The peel is quite fragile when first removed from the syrup. Leave for 10 minutes to allow the excess syrup to drip off and for the peels to become slightly tacky.
To coat: Place the sugar in a shallow dish. Working with a few pieces at a time, roll the peel in the sugar then return to the rack. When dry (this can take 1–2 hours) roll again in the sugar and leave until the peel is firm and the sugar is crisp on the outside.
Store the peel in an airtight container. The peel will keep for 6–8 weeks in a cool, dry place.
To give as a gift, layer slices of the candied peel between waxed paper in a glass jar or metal tin or canister.