Yesterday I posted heart-shaped sugar cookie sandwiches. Cute as they were, they were not my real Valentine's Day dessert. I've been working on a recipe for my real romance food for weeks—and today I was supposed to have a recipe for chocolate-dipped candied orange slices to share with you.
Oranges are in season now (no, not in Maine, silly), so I've been buying 8 pound bags for $5.99. For Valentine's Day, I wanted to create an elegant grown-up candy with a bite. I love dark, bitter chocolate paired with sour citrus.
Unfortunately, candying whole orange slices is not as easy as the food bloggers would have you believe: in the last three weeks, I've made soggy, sticky orange slices, rock-hard orange slices, and disintegrated orange slices. You must blanch the slices to soften the peel (and remove pesticides if your oranges aren't organic), but the softer orange flesh can't handle such rough treatment. This recipe, which involves soaking sliced oranges in a saturated sugar solution, seems to yield good results, but you and I would have had to start in January in order to have candied orange slices ready for Valentime.
In the end I gave up on candying whole orange slices and did only the peels. I blanched strips of peel twice, stewed them in simple syrup for an hour, and left them out to cool and stiffen overnight (there's a complete tutorial at Smitten Kitchen, so I won't repeat it here). Then I coated them in dark chocolate.
These candied orange peels are a perfect balance of sweet, bitter, and sour, smooth with a surprising crunch of crystalized sugar. They are not the sort of cutesy pastel candies you taped to your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles valentines in fifth grade; you could totally seduce somebody with these.
Whether you're planning to get romantic this weekend, or watch the Olympics in your pajamas with your cat, treat yourself to something yummy and out of the ordinary.