Monday, May 24, 2010

Orange(e)tte(e)s: Common heritage(e) of all mankind.

A speck of brown sugar has lodged itself behind the ‘e’ key of my keyboard. Try as I might, I have been unable to lure it out, it seems to have nestled in snugly, likely only to emerge some point in the future having irritated itself into bivalve like pearlescence. The upshot of this intrusion is that in my indignant insistence on typing an ‘e’, I have taken to inadvertently typing any words containing the letter with a double ‘e’, or even on occasion a triple ‘e’, imparting a Flemish characteristic to my writing. I think these errant vowels are my laptop’s way of easing itself back into life post-‘long trip home’ through Flanders last month, more of an accent the computer has affected than a series of typographical errors. It reminds me of the first time Mr 9BR and I played Scrabble, in Antwerp, on a Dutch set, the extra vowels resulting in blatant cheating and a couple of dubious triple word scores that Tolkien would be proud of. I offer my computer’s newly acquired speech affectation as an excuse for a lack of posting, though truthfully the scarcity has more to do with my ongoing affair with assignments on ‘sovereignty in space’ and ‘the convention on the peaceful use of the moon and other celestial bodies’. I was back in Leiden again last week, studying, working, drinking the occasional nut brown beer and sleeping very little, though fortunately avoided the scourge of the ash a second time.

On my recent cross-continental retreat from Flanders, in between veraciously reading space law treaties while waiting in queue at ticket desks, I managed to visit my favourite chocolateir. I love the location as much as the shop itself- just off a cobbled street in Brussels in a galleried walkway arced by lustred art-deco windows which dapple the light across diplomats and tourists enjoying gaufre and coffee in the sun. I cut a not altogether graceful figure, hauling my bag up three flights of stairs at the train station and gymnastically dodging postcard sellers, caricature artists and a hoard of Spanish tourists led by a disgruntled looking guide propelling aloft a lurid orange flag. Limbs flaying wildly, I descended on the bewildered looking shop assistant, hastily purchased four chocolates before sprinting back to the train station in a feat which may have modestly broken the land speed record.

I discovered the store on my first ever visit to Belgium, when overwhelmed with the choice of chocolates: row after row of perfectly formed truffles and brightly hued bon bons, tiny liqueur infused replicas of the Manekin Pis and elegant discs of plain chocolate, I decided instead to taste the same chocolate at each shop. The vague intention was to find the best of the variety. The subject of the side by side tasting was a cerisette, the chocolate with the whole cherry and kirsch inside, one of the single greatest sources of joy in my life to this day. Sometimes in the middle of a meeting about the leasing of an aircraft, or a lecture on space insurance I drift into a reverie of wistful sighs and longing glances just thinking of cherry brandy spilling out of a dark chocolate shell. I decided on my recent visit though to branch out to the orangette, a tangy rind of candied orange peel enveloped in dark chocolate. The perfect orangette has just the right amount of tartness balanced by a levelling sweetness, beautifully translucent beneath a dense coating of bitter dark chocolate. I ate them on a train, one by one, their marmalade sweetness soothing my harried state and I forgot for a moment where I was, the cursed ash and the thirty hour trip ahead.

These really are so easy to make, but require patience as the boiling in sugar syrup, and drying on a rack takes some time.

4 oranges (or lemons) unwaxed (this is very important)
1 cup of caster sugar
3.5 cups of water

150g dark chocolate

Greasproof tray or baking paper
Holy spoon
Sharp knife
Heatproof bowl or double boiler

Scrub the oranges.
Using a sharp knife, cut each orange in half and remove the pulp. Some people juice the oranges first, but as I used the rest of the orange in an orange and chocolate cake, I did not do this. I like to leave quite a bit of pith on mine, but this is a matter of preference. If you do not leave much in the way of pith on the peel, you might reduce the number of blanchings required to one slightly longer boil.
Cut the peel into slivers, about 1cm thick each.
In plenty of boiling water, blanch the peels three times for about ten minutes, changing the water each time.
Drain and in a saucepan combine the water and sugar, bringing to the boil.
Add peels and allow to continue to simmer over medium heat until the peels are translucent. This took me about 45 minutes, but may vary.
Using a holy spoon and tongs, remove each sliver of peel from the sugar syrup and place on a rack over baking paper (to catch any drips). You could drain the liquid prior to this step, but I was keen to use the left over syrup to make a boozy cordial.
Leave peels to dry. This took two days in my case, but again may vary.
Once dry, temper some chocolate and dip the end of each orangette into the chocolate to coat. Leave to set on a greaseproof tray. Eat or store in a airtight jar.

Matching beer:
Hoegaarden Forbidden Fruit


momoirotoeic said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gillian said...

Ah dark chocolate and orange, such a wonderful combo. Good tip on drying the strips. I didn't realise they could take a few days to dry so I dipped mine in a little caster sugar. Ah I should learn some patience :-)

likemamusedtobake said...

These look totally yum. Having a dinner party next week so may make some if I have time, to nibble with tea and coffee. If not I will definitely make these soon and they will most definitely be made at Christmas and popped in pretty jars to be gifted out.

Barefooted Pavee said...

Beautiful :)

I think ill try these out tonight and hopefully ill have enough patience (and sanity) not to eat them out... like above, these I suspect would make well recieved prezzies :)

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