Candied Blood Oranges with Chocolate

This is my ‘Madeleine de Proust’. Whenever I taste these candied orange slices covered with chocolate I’m immediately back in Venice and the Lido, where I spent so many vacations before I moved tot the US. For fifteen years we rented a cheap apartment in Venice which belonged to a friend of my parents. Such lucky ducks!

I spent so many holidays in La Serenissima and knew the city so well, that a Dutch publisher, mo’media, asked me to write a travel guide: 100% Venice (also translated in English, but recently updated by someone else). In the process of writing this guide I must have visited all the worthwhile restaurants, bars, and bakeries, of course never leaving without a drink or something to eat first. At the little bakery shops I used to buy these candied orange slices covered with chocolate. So addictive, and for me fully connected to Venice.

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I think it’s the best candy in the world, so I started making it at home as well. I use ordinary oranges, clementines, and -when they are in season like right now- blood oranges. The last couple of weeks I’ve been busy preparing some jars of orange confit. This way I can enjoy them longer, for in the fridge they last for ages. A slice of orange confit looks stunning as a garnish on desserts like ice cream, semifreddo, or cake.

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And you can turn them into these awesome chocolate covered candied orange slices! You only need to dry them and dip them in chocolate. It’s very easy, but you’ve got to have patience: you have to wait 24 to 48 hours until the slices are dry enough to handle. For citrus fruit confit I always use Alice Waters technique: she poaches the fruit in simple syrup on a low temperature in the oven. Of course I personalized the recipe over the years.

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For 1 jar (about 25 slices)
Action time: 25 minutes + 1 hour and 30 minutes oven time and 24-48 hours drying

3 firm not too big blood oranges, scrubbed
1 1/4 cup/ 225 g sugar
about 2.5 oz/ 75 g dark chocolate (minimal 70%), in pieces

Extra: medium size baking dish, cooling rack, parchment paper, aluminum foil, small jar or container

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C. Trim the ends of the oranges and slice them really thinly (about 1/8 inch /2-3 mm); remove the seeds. In a saucepan, bring the sugar with 1 cup water to a boil, whisk until sugar has dissolved and until you have a thin syrup.

2. Lay the orange slices slightly overlapping in a baking dish (see photo). Pour almost all the syrup over the orange slices, cover with parchment paper (cut out a piece that has the size of the baking dish, see photo) and pour over the rest of the syrup (this way the paper stays in its place). Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for about 1 hour.

3. Check if the slices are translucent (if not, put back covered with foil in the oven for 15-30 minutes more). Remove the foil, and bake for 30 minutes more, only covered with parchment paper this time. Remove from the oven and let cool in the reddish syrup. By this time your kitchen and house will be filled with a delicate orange aroma (an aroma candle cannot beat this).

4. Now you can transfer the orange slices with the syrup to a jar or container; they will last for months in the fridge. But you can also make these chocolate covered candied slices with it.

5. Remove the orange slices from the syrup. Lay the slices on a cooling rack placed on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Allow them to air-dry, uncovered, for about 24 to 48 hours. The drying time depends on the humidity of your kitchen. They’ll still be somewhat tacky, but you must be able to hold them without getting sticky wet fingers.

6. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. With your hands, dip the candied orange slices halfway into the chocolate. Lay down flat on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer to the fridge to set. Once set, you can keep them in a closed container in the fridge for several weeks.

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