Laranjinhas - little oranges
Our tables and sideboards are graced at this time of year with baskets and bowls of seasonal “Christmas oranges”, seedless tangerines,satsumas,kumquats, clementines and mandarins. My replicants have the shape, the name, the flavour and even a significant stalk and leaf but they are not oranges, these little wonders originate from the cuisine of the Alentejo coast of Santiago do Cacém to Alcacer do Sal, and even in Setúbal,a profuse orange growing region.These sweets are rural in their origin but with an elegance and purity of flavour worthy of sophisticated palates.They are an integral part of the memories that flavour Portuguese childhood.
Make the laranjinhas a few days before they are to be served, in order to allow them to get firmer.
4 large carrots
fresh skin and pith of 3 oranges
200g(7oz) granulated sugar
Cut the carrots in half-not in small pieces,so they do not absorb too much water.boil the carrots with the orange peel(with all the pith,to avoid too much bitterness),until tender.Drain very thoroughly and dry again in a clean cloth.Taking avery sharp knife carefully peel away all the pith.Mash and sieve.Bring the sugar to the boil for 2-3 minutes with 2 tablespoons of water,until thick (see pearl stage).Add the purée.boil again stirring with a wooden spoon.Allow the mixture to dry,without burning( this requires a really low flame throughout a modicum of patience and an ever watchful eye).Spread the resulting paste on palate and and leave to get completely cold.Shape into small balls 1inch(2.5cm) in diameter.roll them in sugar and place in paper cases.Leave them untouched to dry for 2 or 3 days.you can make these little oranges realistic by sticking small stem or clove and a mint leaf on top.
Traditionally, these oranges were dried in the sun, after the balls were formed, turning them occasionally so that the entire surface created a crust. Thus, they could be stored for several months and would be eating like candy. This is why so much sugar was used. If the idea is to consume them in a few days, then you can reduce the quantity of sugar.
Makes about 24 laranjinhas