Posted 16 July 2011 - 07:04 AM
Sorry to come so late to the party; I joined, in part, so that I could comment on this.
I started to play with whole dried oranges about this same time. I didn't have clementines available, so I used tangelos and mandarins. I also made a (failed) attempt at candying key limes. I learned a few things that may come in useful for you.
First off, the fresher the fruit, the less of a chance there seems to be that it's going to implode during the cooking. Also, higher temps wreak havoc; anything above a bare simmer seems to be ill-advised. But if your fruit does implode, fear not, it will taste good just the same. I did a large batch, and ended up giving a few to a friend at work. He in turn used them as the sweetening agent while making ginger cookies. So if you're worried about presentation, just use the dented oranges in your baking instead.
There is a gourmet market near me that imports whole, candied Valencia oranges from Spain. I picked one up from there, and discovered a 1/4" hole drilled in the bottom of the orange. Apparently that's pretty normal, and I think it's a way better idea than pricking holes all over the orange like you and I did. When I tried my key limes, I didn't know to put holes in them, and they all dented.
On a side note, I candied some kumquats this week, and poked a single hole in the stem end of each one. Some of them dented, some didn't, but they all tasted excellent. When they were finished, I rolled half of them in sugar before putting them on the dehydrator at 95F for a day, and the sugared ones ended up having a firmer skin, and a more balanced flavor.
Hope I was able to help a little.