Put the sugar and measured cold water in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring very occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Meanwhile, peel the clementines and, leaving them whole, place in a heavy glass serving bowl or mixing bowl with the bay leaves.
Increase the heat once the sugar has dissolved and boil the syrup for 8–10 minutes, without stirring and keeping a close watch on it until it begins to change colour, first becoming pale golden around the edges, then a rich golden colour all over.
Take the pan off the heat, then add the measured boiling water, a tablespoon at a time, standing well back in case the syrup spits. Tilt the pan to mix but don't stir. Once the bubbles have subsided, pour the hot syrup over the clementines and bay leaves. Leave to cool, then serve the dessert with scoops of crème fraîche or cream.