It sounds good in theory, right? I thought it did. As a child I used to literally suck the juices out of lemons and limes. My parents had to hide them from me for fear that I would ruin my teeth before being able to experience the joy and confidence that comes with braces, retainer(s), and head-gear (did anyone else have to wear that horrible Hannibal Lecter-like contraption at night just for a slight overbite?) The plaid navy and white catholic school uniform was the icing on that gorgeous cake. So when I found a recipe for candied lemon peels, I thought "too predictable, too uniformy". Why not put the skins of some ruby red grapefruits to work? Much to my surprise, there are a few recipes out there, even more surprising, no one mentions the ensuing facial contortions upon taking a bite.
When it comes to food, I can handle just about anything. Spicy, rich, tart, or just plain weird, I don't mind. But these 'candied' grapefruits strayed way...way over to the bitter end of the flavour spectrum. I gave about 5 pieces a fighting chance, hoping that the previous one had just been 'the bad patch of skin'. It just didn't work. My right eye kept twitching and I think the face I made was even worse than the one I get after eating Brussels sprouts (sorry, mom. I know you were hoping I'd outgrown that one.) Not all is lost, however. These candied peels would be perfect as a garnish on top of a dark chocolate cake. Or just dipped into a vat of ganache. Chocolate can fix almost anything, Almost.
Candied Grapefruit Peels (recipe adapted from Epicurious)
Ingredients2 ruby red grapefruits (mine were small, so it didn't make much.)
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of water (for the syrup)
1 cup of superfine sugar (optional, I didn't need it.)
Using a sharp knife, carefully cut a slice off the top and bottom of the grapefruit. Stand the fruit, cut side down, on a cutting board and, cutting from top to bottom, cut off bands of peel about 1-inch wide. If it's too difficult, carefully peel off the entire skin, trying to leave as much of it in tact as possible, and scoop out the fruit using a spoon or the back of a knife. Cut the skin into 1-inch wide bands.
Fill a medium size pot with cold water, add the peels and slowly bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Drain the peels, empty the water, and repeat this process 3 more times. *Note* This is supposed to remove the bitterness, and since mine were still quite bitter, you may want to do this more than 3 times.*
After the final time, drain the peels and set them aside.
Have a lightly oiled rack placed over a cookie sheet at the ready.
In a large skillet, combine the 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a slow boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the peels. Keep stirring them around until most of the syrup has been absorbed. If the syrup begins to crystallize on the peels, immediately remove from them from the skillet and onto the prepared rack. Be very careful not to burn yourself on the hot syrup.
The sugar didn't crystallize on my peels until the very end. If this happens, you won't need to use the superfine sugar because the syrup will have adhered to the strips, making it difficult for the sugar to stick to.
If you're lucky enough to have made it through without crystallizing the sugar, place the peels on the rack and allow them to come to room temperature. Once cool enough to touch, drop them into a large shallow bowl filled with the superfine sugar and toss to coat.
Keep candied peels at room temperature in an airtight container.