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  • Candied Nicoise Olives

    Candied Nicoise Olives

    This sweet snack was inspired by London’s resident genius, Heston Blumenthal. At The Fat Duck he created a dish that combined white chocolate with caviar. When I first saw it I thought: this is insane, this guy is just trying to get people’s attention. But actually, it really works very well. The umami from the fish eggs has a particular brine that balances nicely with the white chocolate. I was curious to translate these flavors to confectionery and it didn’t take me too long to come up with olives, as, visually, an olive is just like a larger fish egg. And olives also have a very strong umami taste. Now, to balance that briny flavor with something sweet—easily done through the candying process.


    We first blanch the olives so that they are not too in-your-face briny. And then we cook them in a sugar syrup, so they do become sweet, while keeping some of their original personality. It’s important to remove all the water from the olives. (We dry ours in dehydrators, but you can also air-dry them, if you leave them out long enough.) At this point, they’re like savory raisins. Leave them plain, as we have done here, or dip them in white chocolate! Serve as sophisticated cocktail snacks. Delicious!

    Servings & Time

    • Servings Makes 1 pound
    • Prep 10 minutes
    • Cook 35 minutes, plus 12 hours to 2 days drying time

    Ingredients

    • 1 pound Niçoise olives, pitted
    • ¾ cup water
    • 4½ cups (2 lbs) sugar

    Method

    Lightly oil a cooling rack. Place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

    Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Rinse the olives in hot water in a colander. Blanch the olives in the boiling water, without stirring, for about 5 minutes. Give an olive a taste and if you think it is still too intense, blanch for another minute or two. Drain.

    Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the syrup registers 240°F on a candy thermometer, brushing the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush.

    Add the olives to the boiling sugar and cook, stirring every few minutes, until the temperature reaches 240°F again, 10 to 15 minutes.

    With a slotted spoon, carefully spoon the olives directly onto the prepared cooling rack. Allow to air dry without covering for at least 48 hours, until the olives are fully dried and shriveled like raisins. You may place a thin cloth (thinner than a kitchen towel, more like cheesecloth) over the olives to prevent flies and other bugs from getting on the olives, but this can extend the drying time by a day or two.

    Alternately, you can place the olives in a dehydrator or 230°F oven (if your oven goes down that low) for 12 to 18 hours, until fully dried.

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