Friday, November 11, 2011

Candied Key Lime Slices

Sorry about the inconsistent posting as of late. Allen and I were out of town for quite a while, traveling in Italy and France. It was a great trip. There were little disasters (I lost our train tickets - replacements, in fact, for the train that we'd missed 15 minutes earlier), and minor mistakes (Allen said "Hola!" to nonplussed Italians more than once (note from Allen: Only once.)). But there were little victories, too: I learned a little Italian, and my triumphs include successfully ordering quantities of cheese in a crowded Venetian market while Allen stood behind me and whispered, "Get some salami, too. Salami!" Allen's greatest feat was more dramatic: he cool-headedly jockeyed through Florence traffic in a Fiat while I pushed an imaginary brake pedal and stifled shrieks.

Allen, my awesome husband, was an ideal travel companion. Aside from being generally fun and hilarious, he hauled my giant suitcase around Europe (of course, I offered to tote his reasonable carry-on), while I packed it ever-fuller with jars of honey and olivewood cutting boards. And if I ever got tired of bumbling through Italian greetings, or searching for a French verb that I haven't used in years, Allen was always ready to step in and shout "Hola!" to everyone in the vicinity.

Jessica is presently gallivanting across the eastern seaboard, and me? Well, now it's time to eat and drink and catch up with friends (Jessica among them!) - before the holiday eating and drinking inevitably starts, which is a whole other kind of eating and drinking, and will require commitment and preparation. But we're back in the meantime, however sporadically. Those Christmas dioramas aren't going to decorate themselves.

Now to the project at hand. Our noble little key lime tree, who lives in a pot and had to be moved indoors last night, has given us 10 or 20 little ping-pong-ball sized fruits. In my determined campaign to turn everything healthy and natural into candy or cake, I took those fruits and made gorgeous little stained-glass treats - candy to decorate a cake!

Here are the instructions:

Candied Key Lime (or Lemon) Slices:

Use a mandoline (preferred) or a very sharp knife (dangerous, for me), to cut six key limes into paper-thin slices. Discard the one or two slices at each of the ends. (Or, you can use the same process for two medium-sized lemons.) I didn't worry about removing all the seeds.

In a large bowl, prepare an ice-water bath, and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Remove from heat, and dump in citrus slices. Stir very gently for about one minute. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the citrus slices and place them in the ice bath. Drain.

Prepare another ice bath, bring another pot of water to boil, and repeat the blanching and ice-bath process once more. This helps remove all the bitterness from the pith of the lime.

Combine 4 cups sugar with 1 1/2 cups water in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir gently until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear, and reduce heat to medium-low. Using tongs, arrange the citurs slices in a single layer in the skillet. Let the lemon slices simmer for about an hour and a half. Do not stir, and don't let the water boil.

Set two cooling racks over parchment paper, for catching drips. Use a fork to remove the lemon slices from the pan and place on the drying racks. The slices will need a day or more to dry completely.

I placed most of these in a plastic container and put them in the freezer. I've used the rest to decorate cakes and small pastries. They would be pretty (and delicious) dipped in chocolate, too, and given as gifts.