It's #whathappenswednesday! And today, I'd like to address an important issue: why does candied citrus peel get all the glory? After all, there's a whole world of other foods out there that are just dying to be candied. For instance, carrot peel.
So what would happen if you used the same candy-ing method used for citrus, but for carrot shavings? This was a question on my mind when I was making carrot cake recently and had plenty of time to think about this and that while grating carrots for the recipe.
A minimal amount of online research informed me that I wasn't the first one to wonder this, and in fact, according to some actual respected food websites, it is a Bona Fide Thing.
Not one to simply rely on what I read on the internet, though (especially when clear pictures aren't available!), I needed to see for myself. And so after I finished grating carrots for my cake, I swapped tools and used a peeler to shave some carrots and see what would happen when they were candied.
So I played around with an Epicurious recipe, and in under two hours, I had myself a nice big ol' batch of candied carrot peel.
You know how the idea of carrot cake, when you really think about it, sounds strange? But how it's so ingrained in society that you kind of hear it and think "oh, that's normal"? It's the same way with candied carrot peel. It sounds odd at first, but once you taste it, it just makes sense. The natural sweetness of the carrots is simply augmented by sugar, and the texture becomes very interesting in this crispy, candied format. You know, this would actually be a good snack just on its own.
I did enjoy some just as a snack...but mostly I used the candied carrot to decorate a carrot cake (natch) and it won me many new friends.
So what happens when you candy carrot peel? You'll dismiss the idea that citrus is the only produce that can be candied, that's what!
How to candy carrot peel - step by step!
2 to 3 medium carrots
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
a medium saucepan; a vegetable peeler; two baking trays and parchment paper or silicone mats to line
Start by peeling the carrots. Try to get as wide, flat, and fat portions of peel as you possibly can. I tried to peel as much of the carrots as I could. Set the carrot peels to the side.
In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. The sugar should have dissolved.
Add the carrot peel, and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes.
Strain the mixture (the carrot peel will be limp and moist). Let it hang out for a few minutes while you preheat your oven.
Oh yeah! The oven. Preheat it to 225 degrees F, please.
While the oven preheats go ahead and line your baking pans with parchment or silicone liners. Arrange the carrot peel on the sheets, so that the pieces are not touching. Bake for about 30 minutes.
At this point, you can remove the peel from the oven and shape it a bit, if you like. I found, however, that I really enjoyed the whimsy of the more free-form shapes, so I mostly left them that way.
Return the carrot peel to the oven and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until firm and lightly crisp. Let cool completely on your baking sheet before using.