Monday, March 7, 2011

Oranges, Part II

Lest you think I'm really odd for posting a recipe for candied citrus peel in March (it's a Christmas treat, after all)... There was a reason. It looks like this:

finished, take 1

This particular recipe adventure didn't even start out with a desire to make candied citrus peel -- it started with the cake. You see, this cake has two entire oranges in it. Yes, the WHOLE orange, pith, peel and all. So naturally, I had to see if this really could be done.

And what is a cake without a little decoration? Enter the candied citrus peel.  Now if I could just figure out what to do with all of the naked oranges in my fridge...

The verdict: yes, you really can make a cake out of whole oranges. Despite numerous warnings from other websites that this cake only works if you boil your oranges for hours first, this cake wasn't bitter at all. In fact, it was delicious--rich and buttery, thanks to a few key ingredients:

Round thingsDSC_0099

Three eggs, three sticks of butter, two cups of sugar -- how could that not be good!?

Whole Orange Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache Glaze
from Alejandra Ramos of "Always Order Dessert"
2 whole oranges, scrubbed and washed well
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups granulated white sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

DSC_0090batterfloured bundtready to bake

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour a Bundt pan and set aside.
2. Quarter the oranges, remove any seeds if not using navel, and put in food processor to puree. Set aside.
3. While the oranges are pureeing, cream the butter and sugar together in the base of an electric mixer for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, waiting until each is fully combined.  Add the orange puree and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix into the wet ingredients gently, just until fully combined.
5. Pour the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan, spreading so that it is evenly distributed. Bake at 350 for about 60 minutes or until a tester inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before frosting:

fresh out of the ovenready for frosting!

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

Ingredients (the original recipe called for twice this amount -- I used 3/4 of the original recipe, and had leftovers... I think this amount should be sufficient)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup chocolate chips -- I highly recommend Ghiradelli's 60% Cacao chocolate chips

Put the chocolate chips in a small heat proof bowl. Heat the heavy cream over medium heat just until small bubbles begin to form. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips, let sit for 30 seconds, and then and whisk gently until fully melted and combined. Let cool for 15 minutes. Slowly pour the ganache over the cake in a circular motion, allow it it slide drip down the sides. Try to refrain from spreading it around with a spatula, and work quickly. It may take a few tries to get a smooth ganache -- but don't worry, it'll taste so good no one will notice the imperfections!

Top with candied orange peels -- let the ganache set for 15 minutes, then press in the peels gently. Let the glazed cake set for at least an hour before serving. It will keep for 3-5 days under plastic wrap.

frosted, take 2
finished, take 2

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Oranges, Part I


Candied Orange Peels
(mostly) from David Lebovitz' "The Perfect Scoop"

2 large oranges (or citrus fruit of your choice), washed and scrubbed well
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for coating
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
pinch of salt

1. Remove strips of orange peel with a knife or vegetable peeler. Cut from pole to pole, creating long straight strips and trying to keep edges as smooth as possible. Gently scrape most of the white pith off of each peel (depending on how think you want your strips to be -- my first batch was too thin and became very brittle. Cut the peel into 1/8 inch match sticks (for curls) or into larger pieces for chunks.
2. Place the peels in a sauce pan and cover with an inch of water. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse well. Repeat this process twice more, using fresh water each time. This step helps remove the bitter taste from your orange peels. Some recipes recommend boiling for up to an hour, but I found 15 minutes to be sufficient.
3. Combine 1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the blanched orange peel. Simmer as slowly as possible until the syrup reaches 230 degrees fahrenheit. This should take a good 20-30 minutes, if not longer. Watch the pot very carefully once your thermometer gets above 220. It will take a long time in the 212-220 range, and then reach 230 very quickly. I burnt my first batch because I wasn't watching it closely enough!
4. Let the peels cool in the syrup. You can then either store them in the syrup in the refrigerator, or you can sugar them. To sugar the peels, gently lift them out of the syrup with a fork, letting the excess syrup drain off. Separate the peels and lay them on wax paper. Let them dry out for 30 minutes. Toss the peels in granulated sugar, and let dry for another 30 minutes, or longer if they still feel sticky. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. I also hear these are pretty fantastic dipped in dark chocolate.


*Notes: I always recommend using a candy thermometer, as it takes the guess work out of cooking. They are very inexpensive and can be obtained at any cooking store, or even Walmart or Target. If you don't have one, however, just cook the peels until most of the syrup has boiled away and the peels look crystalized. The syrup will have just started to look foamy as it boils.

I also don't recommend halving this recipe unless you have a very small saucepan--use the same amount of syrup even if you have one orange. Otherwise there won't be enough syrup to cover the peels and you are in danger of it cooking too fast, or your thermometer not giving an accurate reading.

Apparently there is also great controversy over the *correct* way to make candied fruit. Some recipes claim it takes days to properly candy something, while others think it can be done in just an evening. Since I was experimenting anyway, I decided to try the quick method first, of course. It worked wonderfully! I do plan on trying the longer method at some point, though, for a proper scientific comparison. And of course, I'll have to test out a few more kinds of fruit... ;).  Have you tried candying anything? How did it turn out?