These are one of the most festive things I can think of. They are pretty, they are perfect gifts and they are delicious!
However many oranges you (not blood oranges)
1/2 cups water or 1/2 cup of smooth orange juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
per orange you are using.
Wash the oranges thoroughly, then slice them into half-inch wide slices. Melt the sugar in the water on medium heat, then add the orange slices and cook on moderate heat for about 20 minutes turning the slices every now and again, letting the syrup slightly boil and reduce itself. Then reduce the heat and leave it on for 10 more minutes, until the syrup turns thick and the slices are translucent and tender but still intact.
Transfer the orange slices to a rack to cool and pour the syrup into a small sterilised jar.
The syrup can be heated up and serve, warm onto icecream or crepes. My favourite is hot American style pancakces served with this warm syrup and with a dollop of cream. You can also use it to make orange ice-cream, fold it into cake batter or use to make chocolate orange cake. Buy or make some chocolate sponge, cut it in half horizontally and spread both the top and the inside with royal icing into which you will have mixed a couple of tablespoons of the syrup.
The slices are delicious eaten just like that. They can be used to garnish desserts (for examples the chocolate orange cake described above), dipped in dark chocolate and offered as candy or frozen and then served with ice cream. You can stack them in a jar and give them away as Christmas presents, or you can run a thread of raffia through the empty centres and make Christmas decorations with cinnamon sticks and anice stars. Our neighbours would always decorate their Christmas tree with gingerbread figurines, threads of orange slices and little red balls, and as a child I used to think their tree smelled like Christmas more than anything in the world.