custom cakes/cookies

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Orange Tian, Nostalgia

It may take a good long meandering to get where you're going, but there are some things in life that are fairly, intrinsically evident from the very beginning. Let me explain...

When I was a kid, growing up in Florida, our yard was pretty fantastically prolific with a lemon tree, 2 grapefruit trees (one pink and one white), 3 orange trees (of various types), 2 tangerine trees, and an avocado tree. Playing outside meant climbing the trees and picking the fruit to snack on at whim. When the little neighbor boys came over, my sister and I would set up "house" under the branches of a particular orange tree. Interestingly, now that I think back on our pretend roles, I was never the "wife" or the "mother" or the "child". Instead, I was the "cook". (That's me in the picture below.) And, oh boy, (with all that citrus at my little finger tips) did I come up with some creative "meals"! The thing I remember making the most, my specialty if you will, was tangerine pie.

The recipe was simple really: take one frisbee, fill with dirt, then level off the surface; next peel several tangerines, separating the segments and arrange each segment with care atop the dirt; serve immediately to hungry playmates. Every time I made it, I would arrange the tangerine pieces in a different pattern. I bet in one play session alone I must have consumed 4-5 tangerines on my own, clinging dirt included. Tangerines tasted so much better back then... Although, I'm doubting the extra "minerals" had anything to do with their incredibly sweet juiciness.

When this month's baking challenge popped on my horizon, I was instantly taken back to my days of tangerine pie making. We were challenged to make an orange tian. The dessert is made of different layers: a pâte sablée (a shortbread crust) with orange marmalade, a flavored whipped cream topped with fresh orange segments, and served with a caramel and orange sauce.

You build the dessert upside down and then unmold it so that the bottom layer (the orange segments) becomes the top layer. Admittedly, the tian is much fancier of an approach than my frisbee method, but the fanned-out orange segments look so amusingly similar. As a tribute to my childhood, I substituted a chocolate pâte sablée crust to approximate the dirt layer, and I posed the finished tian in a frisbee I borrowed from a friend. Doesn't quite taste the same as I remember when I was a kid, but that's alright by me. This "new" method has a grown-up appeal all its own.

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.


Chocolate Pâte Sablée

2 medium-sized egg yolks at room temperature
6 TBS + 1 tsp granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
7 TBS unsalted butter, cubed and frozen
⅓ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup + 2 TBS cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder

Put the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse briefly to combine.
In a separate bowl, add the eggs yolks, vanilla extract and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is pale. Pour the egg mixture in the food processor.
Process until the dough just comes together. If you find that the dough is still a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again to form a homogenous ball of dough. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a ¼-inch thick circle. Using your cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough and place on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.

Citrus Melange Marmalade
makes 1½ pints

Juice and flesh from 2 oranges

10 thinly sliced kumquats (discard ends)

Juice and flesh from 1 large grapefruit

Juice and flesh from 2 Meyer lemons

2¾ cups sugar

½ cup water

Remove rind from all fruit with a vegetable peeler. (Set aside small piece of rind from all fruits to add in later)
 Remove all of the white pith from the fruit. If left on this will make your marmalade very bitter! 
Very thinly slice reserved rind into matchsticks.
 Supreme the oranges, gratefruit and lemons and add all ingredients including juice to a non-reactive saucepan.
 Bring to a boil and simmer until mixture begins to thicken about 45 minutes.
 Once mixture has become thick and reduced, registering 221° F on a candy thermometer, transfer to jars and process in a hot water bath canner.

Orange Segments

Supreme about 8 oranges into segments over a shallow bowl, collecting the juice as you slice. Add the segments to the bowl with the juice. For a variegated effect, I used both cara cara (a pinkish, navel orange) and regular navel oranges.

Orange Caramel Sauce

1 cup granulated sugar
1½ cups + 2 TBS fresh-squeezed orange juice

Place the sugar in a wide pan on medium heat and begin to heat it. The sugar will start to melt and turn a caramel color. Holding the handle of the pan, gently swirl the pan occasionally to evenly distribute the heat. Do not stir with a utensil. The sugar will begin to turn a caramel color and smell like cotton candy.

Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.

Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (~10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the orange tians.

Stabilized Whipped Cream

3 TBS hot water
1 tsp gelatine
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 TBS confectioner's sugar
1 TBS marmalade (see recipe above)

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatine over the surface of the hot water, wait one minute and then stir well until the gelatine dissolves. Let the gelatine cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream. Combine the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip the cream using a hand mixer on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute. Add the confectioner sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the cream until the beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add the cooled gelatine slowly while beating continuously. Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade.

Putting it all together:

Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer.

Lay out tian molds (i.e., cookie cutters set on a removable base like parchment or small springform pans) on a baking tray.

Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.

Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of chocolate pâte sablée ready to use.

Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of each ring mold. Make sure the segments all touch each other and that there are no gaps arranging them in a fanned out pattern. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert.

Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of each mold, add a couple spoonfuls of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it covers the orange segments entirely in an even layer. Leave about ¼-inch at the top so there is room for the pâte sablée cookies.

Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each cookie.

Carefully place the cookie over each ring (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the cookie to make sure the dessert is compact.

Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for 10 minutes.

To unmold, use a small knife to gently go around the edges of the cookie cutter to make sure the dessert will be easy to release. Gently place your serving plate on top of each tian mold and turn the plate over. Slowly remove the ring, add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately.


Yasmeen said...

Awesome! love the chocolate pate and every layer looks perfect :D

Kelly-Jane said...

Great post, chocolate sablee, mmm!

Keith M said...

Wow.... just... wow. I'm afraid of your blog.

BTW - did you try the pickled jalapenos?

Olivia said...

Thank you, Keith! Yes, I did try the pickled jalapenos. As suggested, I put them in a grilled comté cheese sandwich layered with preserved lemon. It was very, very good!