What shall I make for Valentines Day in Spain. There was a whole host of ideas from articles, magazines, books, some of it in Spanish, but all to do with Valentines day. Though I agonised for a little while, concrete ideas were gelling for valentines all around the world. We have a large garden with fruit trees, as in mostly juicy, sweet Valencian oranges. Perhaps I could write an article about what I used to make my Valentine's Day dessert? Try 2 dessert ideas for Valentines, why not? One could be a snacking gift, use the other to embellish: now there's a thought.

Actually, a friend stopped short when she first saw it and corrected me: "talk about the understatement of the year - that's an orchard.  What on earth do you do with all that fruit?"

Suggestions of selling the excess at the local market is a bit moot, given the vast amount of produce grown locally around here. We could probably harvest about thirty boxes of oranges, but so could every one of our neighbours. Harvest that is, not necessarily use.   It is quite impossible to eat it all or give it away; we try to use as much as we can.  I'd already made orange jam (or orange marmalade) a fortnight ago. There was so much marmalade, that I'd probably have to have marmalade-on-anything till the cows came home.

Valentines Day first became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the Middle Ages.  It is traditionally a day on which lovers express their love for each other by offering confectionery, flowers and sending cards... or going on a romantic sojourn somewhere exciting, perhaps Venice (to coincide with the Carnival celebrations (see: Alicante Carnival), or a weekend in New York or Paris, both a shoppers delight. [We actually did spend one memorable Valentines' Weekend in Paris... but, perhaps that's for another article...].

So, after much rumination, I'll decided to make 2 sets of recipes. Chocolate Orange HEARTs, and Chocolate Orange-Leaf Churros, since it was Valentine's Day not so long ago.  I don't know about you, but even though I love cooking, I'd rather not spend a whole day preparing bits and pieces; something easy, looks sensational, and tastes sublime. So, here I am, ready to tackle my dessert/snack/gift... got the heart, definitely have the chocolate, and little bits of confectionery.

Chocolate Orange HEARTs

Candied Orange Peel (in Chocolate)
3 large citrus fruit
2 cups sugar
1 cups water
 dark chocolate

Candied Orange Peel/Hearts

These can be made up to a week before.

  • Wash and zest (in long thin strips) oranges. If making a small quantity, use the microwave to cook them (with a little water) for 5 minutes.I've used fancy shapes (heart-shaped) but they work the same way.
  • Have a deep plate with (extra) granulated sugar (for rolling the orange peel in) set to one side.
  • Bring to the boil the water and sugar; add the orange peel - cook until translucent. 
  • Immediately drain the sugar syrup from the orange peel (the syrup is no longer required here but it is a nice alternative to the usual spoonful of sugar for your coffee or tea) - transfer them to the plate with sugar, roll the strands in sugar.
  • As it cools, you might need to roll and toss a few times. Keep in an airtight container for about a week.
  • To use: dip in melted chocolate one half of each heart; lay on baking sheet to dry off.
candied orange peels: spain perleta home kitchen recipe valentines day treat heart-shape chocolate covered orange peel

I had to beat off my husband's thieving hands...  the candied peel was so moreish, I had to make a second batch for this exercise! - lovely for snacks or decorating cakes and desserts.]

There is the much-loved, universal childhood favorite - a plateful of churros and chocolate

Chocolate Orange-Leaf Churros

Many of you will probably have heard of 'churros' - the ubiquitous snack that's sold up and down the country, commonly referred to as Spanish doughnuts. The snack gets its name from its shape, which resembles the horns of the Churro breed of sheep reared in the Spanish grasslands. 

Churros are similar to 'eu char koay' a type of fried bread in the Chinese cuisine. After the Portuguese sailed for the Orient and returned from ancient China to Europe, they brought along with them new culinary techniques.  

Though, the Chinese version is mainly a savoury breakfast snack, eaten with broth in Penang, Malaysia where I'm from.  Imagine my surprise when visiting Spain for the first time and being introduced to 'churros' - hey, I know this snack - we have it all the time in my home town in Malaysia. 

In Spain the churros sprinkled with sugar, may be accompanied with thick, hot chocolate are normally eaten for breakfast; many street vendors also sell it, much like pretzels.


spain Santa Pola Saturday market stand van cook churro
spain Santa Pola Saturday market enjoying sugar-covered churro, childrens flamenco dresses
spain Santa Pola seafront buy thinner churro

I'm going to make Jacq's CHOCOLATE Orange-leaf Churros, a similar snack/appetizer in Murcian cuisine where they use lemon leaf.  Because of the lemony-orangey fragrance the orange-leaf imparts into the battered dough, its like having an orangey-lemongrass-sherbet with your mouthful of hot cinnamon donut!  In Spain, the dry Churro-mixture/flour is sold at the food stores, just add water to make the batter, and follow the recipe below, omitting the first 4 ingredients.
To make your own,
[Omit the first 4 ingredients if you've bought 'churro' flour from a shop.]


  • 1 cup white flour
  • 11/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarb. of soda
  • Pinch of salt and 2 TBL. sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. groung ginger
  • 1 TBL light olive oil
  • 20 orange-leaves (washed and patted dry)
  • light olive oil (for frying)
  • sugar for dusting


  • In a sauce pan add the water, sugar, salt, and light olive oil and heat to a good boil.
  • Remove from the heat and add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, bicarb. of soda, baking powder.
  • Mix the batter until well blended. (Mixture should be just smooth and soft,  though not 'runny'.)
  • Have a plate handy with kitchen paper, set aside.
  • In a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat about 1 inches deep light olive oil.
  • When the oil is slightly smoking, take a orange-leaf, coat both sides of it with batter.
  • Gently lower it into boiling oil; quickly cook both side until light golden brown.
  • Lift up with a perforated ladle,  drain excess on kitchen paper on the prepared plate. Cool.
  • To coat with chocolate: melt 100g. dark chocolate with 1 knob butter in the microwave (1 - 2 mins.).  Depending on your choice, dip either the each whole orange-leaf, or half only, in chocolate. Lay it down on a baking sheet to cool.  With the half chocolate coated ones,  dust the other half with sugar.
spain perleta home kitchen recipe valentines day treat fry battered orange-leaf
spain perleta home kitchen recipe valentines day treat dry battered chocolate-coated orange-leaves on grease-proof paper
spain perleta home kitchen recipe valentines day treat decorate presentation, chocolate orange-leaves, orange peel, orange hearts, mint, orange leaves