The citrus season is in full bloom and the Parisian markets offer a vibrant and delicious selection. There are various savory and sweet dishes where citrus is the star and those where it is used as an accent on the side. As the holiday season sneaks closer by the day, citrus fruits have found an important place in my kitchen. Not only does the bright sweet scent fill the room but the tangy flavour adds such a festive feeling to the holiday table. So far orange has been my favourite citrus fruit this year but I'm eagerly waiting for the blood oranges to appear in the fruit stands. I haven't always liked using orange in cooking and baking, but it was the combination of dark chocolate and orange that finally turned me. I still find a lot of orange flavoured dishes too intense and sweet or maybe I just prefer the freshness of the fruit itself. But I have found the perfect balance for me in my dark chocolate orange truffles.
400 g quality dark chocolate (250 g for making the ganache and the rest for covering the truffles)
100 ml crème entière or double cream
100-120 g sugar
100-120 ml water (same amount as sugar)
Peel an orange thinly but so the peel doesn't break. Break it into small pieces, long enough to roll a bit more then once after they have been candied. Now put equal amount of water and sugar into a saucepan and let it come to a simmer. Drop in the orange peel pieces and let them simmer for a couple of minutes. The aim isn't to candy them completely but to make them softer and sweeter while they still preserve their tang and slight bitter taste. Within minutes the color will brighten and they are ready. Pour away the sugar syrup, carefully take out the peel pieces and put them on baking parchment. Gently roll each piece into a tiny roll and leave them to dry while you prepare the truffles. To make the chocolate ganache first melt the dark chocolate in a bain-marie until almost all the pieces of chocolate have melted. Remove from the heat and gentlty mix with a wooden spatula. Warm up some crème entière or double cream and slowly pour it into the melted chocolate while mixing with a spatula. Once the mixture is even and smooth grind in some orange peel and squees in about a tablespoon of orange juice. Put it into the fridge to cool and set for about an hour and a half. The deeper the bowl the longer it will take for the ganache to set. Once the ganache is ready take it out of the fridge and using a small teaspoon scoop into tiny balls. To get a nice round shape roll them between your palms and try to be as quick as possible so the ganache doesn't soften too much. At this point it's useful to wear latex gloves to keep the mess to the minimum. After you have your ganache balls ready put them back in the fridge for about two hours. Before taking them out of the fridge melt the rest of the dark chocolate as before, until there are still some pieces drowning in the melted chocolate. Add a couple more pieces to the melting chocolate after removing it from the heat and mix with a spatula until the chocolate is evenly melted or the added pieces don't melt anymore, if any pieces are left just remove them. The reason for this is to temper the chocolate. This means that the fatty acid crystals separate. The objective here is to entice the disparate fatty acid crystals of cocoa butter back into one stable form, giving the chocolate a smooth and shiny finish. Now it's time to dip the ganache balls into the melted chocolate, one by one carefully to get even coverage. Once that is done gently add the previously candied orange peels on top of each truffle and put them in the fridge to set. Minimum an hour and as long as needed, even a day before serving.