In the past I've used them to make marmalade, added them to salad and even made cordial but I've got something quite different in mind.
There's a photo of a tart that I've long admired in Gourmet Traveller's Annual Cookbook that I've wanted to make for a while - the fact that it looked so good using regular oranges I knew for certain that it would even better with blood oranges.
An important part of this recipe is that you use unwaxed oranges, which meant for me, waiting until blood oranges were back in season so I could get them from my favourite citrus grower. That wait is now over!
The reason for unwaxed oranges is that the orange slices are going to be candied, peel and all and for this I've basically followed the recipe however I have incorporated my own pastry and filling for the rest of the tart. If I do say so myself, it's been a complete success.
Candied Blood Orange Tart
Makes 2x18cm tarts
3 blood oranges
320 grams caster sugar
160 grams light corn syrup
1½ cups milk
60 grams caster sugar
50 grams semolina
3 egg yolks
Make the Candied Blood Oranges:
Top and tail the oranges and then cut into even ½cm slices.
Put these slices into a pan of cold water and allow to come to the boil, drain and then return the slices to the pan, cover with cold water and put them over a medium heat to come to the boil again. Repeat this process until the peel has softened. For this batch I found that I needed to do this 3 times.
Place the caster sugar, light corn syrup and ½ cup of water into a pan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat slight and bring to a gentle simmer before adding the drained orange slices. Let this come to a boil before turning the heat to low and let it simmer, stirring occasionally and carefully, until the orange slices become translucent and the syrup has thickened.
Remove the orange slices and place them on baking paper, arranging them in a single layer. Pour the remaining syrup into a bowl and let this all cool completely.
While these have some of the characteristics of commercial candied orange they aren't really comparable. As I found out in a workshop, artisan candied oranges take 13 days to make!
Make the Semolina Cream:
Put the milk, sugar and semolina in a pan and whisk over a gentle heat until the mixture is smooth. Keep stirring with a spoon until the mixture thickens.
Remove from the heat and whisk vigorously to knock out a bit of the heat before adding the egg yolks, one at a time, whisking well until they are combined.
Place this mix into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap - make sure the wrap rests against the semolina cream as this prevents it from forming a skin. Allow this to cool before using.
Assemble the tart:
There's enough pastry and semolina cream to make two small tarts - which is the route I've taken but if you prefer you can make one large tart. You'll also need to have a loose bottom cake pan to help the tart keep it's shape.
Roll out half the dough on baking paper to form a rough circle a bit bigger than the base of a 18cm tart tin.
Spread out half the semolina cream - make sure you leave a 3-4cm border around the filling. Arrange the candied orange slices over the cream and then fold the edge of the pastry up around the filling.
Carefully place this into the cake pan and then cut away any excess baking paper.
Bake in a preheated 160°C oven until the pastry is golden and cooked through - about 40 minutes. The semolina cream will puff while cooking but will deflate on cooling. Once you've taken it from the oven, brush the tart with some of the reserved syrup.
The pastry is quite short and is delicate while hot, so let it cool a bit before you try to remove it from the pan.
There is such a wonderful aroma that comes while baking this tart that I can only encourage you to give it a go and experience it for yourself.
Better yet, is the taste - short, buttery pastry, thick creamy interior and the heady tang of those chewy candied oranges. It's a tart that demands you have seconds..and thirds!