a journal of tea-inspired foods and recipes
Orange-chocolate is my second favorite dessert flavor, next to lemon. I have memories of my dad treating me to Swiss Orange Chip ice cream at Swenson’s as a kid. Anytime I see a Terry’s chocolate orange at the market, I scoop one (or two) up. Set a bag of chocolate dipped candied orange peel in front of me? Gone in about a minute.
So I couldn’t let this citrus season go by without trying a DIY candied orange recipe—all with the intention of pairing with chocolate, of course.
I decided to candy sweet clementine oranges. The method is a simple one, with just three ingredients—clementines, water, and sugar. Replace the water with a strong brewed tea and you’ve got the perfect tea-infused treat, and a great way to incorporate tea into your cooking.
Simmering the clementines in rooibos tea seemed like a natural pairing. Rooibos, a South African bush plant that is steeped like tea, brews into a rich mohogany red liquor with notes of honey, caramel, and vanilla. Rooibos is an herb, not a true tea, so you can steep it for a long time and get intense flavor without the astringency or bitterness of over steeped tea leaves. I was able to simmer the clementines in a strong rooibos syrup for two hours, infusing the orange slices with gentle hints of the rooibos flavor. Bonus is that you end up with a citrus infused rooibos syrup as a byproduct of the process. Refrigerate that syrup and keep it on hand for sweetening iced tea and flavoring cocktails.
While you can gobble up the candied clementines on their own, they also make a gorgeous garnish for cakes or cupcakes— especially chocolate ones!
Happy cooking and sipping!
P.S. Many thanks to Rooi Life for sending me samples of South African rooibos to play around with in my tea foodie kitchen.
Adapted from the New York Times recipe for Candied Clementines by John Willoughby.
2 1/4 cups water
6 rooibos tea bags
2 cups sugar
5 clementine (or mandarin) oranges, scrubbed clean and thinly sliced (with peel on)
1. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan then remove from heat and add tea bags. Let steep for 10 minutes for a strong brewed tea.
2. Remove tea bags and return saucepan to the stovetop. Add sugar and bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve sugar. Once sugar is dissolved and mixture is boiling, add clementine slices. Reduce heat so mixture is just simmering. Set a piece of parchment paper on top of the clementine slices to keep them submerged in the liquid. Simmer for 2 hours. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
3. Once clementine slices have cooled in the syrup, remove them from the syrup and lay them in a single layer on parchment paper. [Note: Transfer syrup to a sealable jar and refrigerate for use later in drinks or other desserts.] You can either let the candied clementines “dry” for a bit before enjoying. But they won’t completely dry out at room temperature; they will remain pretty sticky, but they’re still perfectly edible and delicious. To dehydrate them further and make them easier to handle and store, lay them on parchment on a baking sheet. Top with another layer of parchment and a second baking sheet to press them down. Bake for 1 hour in a 250-degree oven. Let cool before using.