Halloween party menu
Roasted baby pumpkins and white chocolate with butter pecans and candied orange peel.
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Cut the ends off the orange and discard (i.e., put in your compost pile). Incise four cuts longitudinally on the orange – don’t cut into the fruit if you can avoid it. Remove the peel from the fruit. Set aside the fruit for another use. (For instance, you can cut it into chunks and add it to Terry’s Endive Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnuts.) Scrape the pith off the peel (I used a grapefruit spoon to do this) and add the pith to your compost pile. Cut the peel into long, very skinny strips and put them into a heavy saucepan. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and pour off the water. Do this twice more.Skip to next paragraph
Terry Boyd is the author of Blue Kitchen, a Chicago-based food blog for home cooks. His simple, eclectic cooking focuses on fresh ingredients, big flavors and a cheerful willingness to borrow ideas and techniques from all over the world. A frequent contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times, his recipes have also appeared on the Bon Appétit and Saveur websites.
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Put the peel into a bowl and wash out the saucepan. Then put the pan back on the stove and pour in the sugar and the 3/4 cup water. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring with a whisk when the water starts to warm to mix everything together. Simmer this gently about 8 to 10 minutes, then add the peel. You are going to simmer the peel for about 45 minutes or so, until it is very tender. You don’t have to hover over the stove, but I do recommend checking frequently to make sure the syrup isn’t boiling too fast or that you are not burning the peel. Also, do not stir the peel – if you are worried about the way it is distributed, shake the pot gently; if something is protruding above the fray, poke it back in with the end of a spoon. No stirring! Or you may cause sugar crystals to form. When you get to the 45-minute mark, take out a strip of peel, let it cool for a moment, and then taste to check for appropriate tenderness.
One thing to do while you are passing the time waiting for the peel to be done is to line a pan – a cookie sheet or a pizza pan – with foil. Another is to eat the orange segments you saved earlier. We did.
When the orange peel is ready, turn off the heat. (At this point, some people like to put the peel in a bowl and toss it with more sugar. I don’t care for this, so I skip it. ) Using chopsticks or tongs, set out the orange peel onto the foil-lined surface and allow it to dry for at least a day.
Maple syrup vs. maple sugar. If you overboil the maple syrup and it starts to crystallize into sugar, add a dash of water and stir gently over low heat – it should dissolve into syrup again.
This is a palette – feel free to experiment. You can add other toppings depending on your supplies and the season. There are versions of this candy around that call for Halloween extras like candy corn and factory-baked cookies. People, please. Some of the ingredients I am aiming to try include dried cherries cut into bits, candied grapefruit or lemon peel, coarse ground pepper and, whenever summer gets back, marigold petals and very finely minced rosemary.
One or many? You can also make this as a bark. Pour the white chocolate all at once onto a papered cookie sheet, spread it with an angled spatula and then add the toppings. After it sets, break it into chunks.
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