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My unrelenting love of period melodramas continues with a second installment of my Downton Abbey Jelly Series. The first Downton Abbey post, Mr. Molesley’s Prize-Winning Rose Blancmange, was historically correct and visually lovely, but disappointing taste-wise. It turns out adapting Victorian/Edwardian recipes to modern-day ingredients and measurements is not as easy as I hoped.
For the second installment of the series, and to prevent another taste disaster, I decided to not create my own recipe but follow in the steps of my own culinary hero, Julia Child. Lucky for me, Mastering the Art of French Cooking has several recipes for the pinnacle gelatin dessert of Edwardian England – the Bavarian Cream. A Bavarian Cream (Bavarois if you’re fancy) is essentially custard with whipped cream added just before setting, a touch of gelatin to maintain shape, and a touch of flavoring and booze.
If you’ve ever made a recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, you know they are not simple or straight forward. Instead they are convoluted and complicated, resulting in many tear stains on my beaten up copy. This recipe pushed my limited culinary skills to their breaking point. Needless to say, the Bavarois à l’Orange was the most work I’ve put forth for a gelatin dessert.
Let me summarize what is required for this recipe – you must separate a bunch of eggs, whip egg yolks in sugar, cook egg yolks without scrambling (I’m still shocked I pulled this off), dribble boiling milk into egg yolks, whip egg whites and fold into yolks, stir egg mixture in a bowl sitting into another bowl of ice, whip cream, and fold cream into everything else. Grating and juicing the oranges was just the easy part. Get the idea?
Complaining aside, the work put into this dessert is worth it. This is, without a doubt, the most delicate and flavorful dessert I’ve ever made. Egg yolks created a taste more rich and complicated than typical panna cottas, and addition of whipped cream and whipped egg whites created a delicate and fluffy texture that transcended – well – anything I’ve ever tasted. Since I’ve never had a Bavarian Cream before, I have no idea how “authentic” mine turned out, but I do know it was a hit at my French-themed birthday party.
A note on this recipe:
Since it would be a breach of copyright law to replicate the entire recipe on my blog (and I really hate breaking copyright laws), I will not post the recipe. However, if you’re the type of person who wants to make such a complicated and fantastically delicate dessert, you should bite the bullet and just buy Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Good news: After some research, I discovered most Bavarian Cream recipes are not nearly as complicated as Julia’s. So if you’re looking for an easier recipe, Google away!
Blood oranges, crimson and delightful, are quickly becoming my favorite citrus. Unlike their gory name, they are lovely, tart and sweet. With a vibrant color and distinct flavor, they are perfect for gelatin molds – or in this case, agar agar set in orange peels.
The blood orange agar agar seen here is inspired by this Blood Orange Jelly Smiles recipe from the fantastic website, The Kitchn. I changed the recipe by substituting agar agar for gelatin. These are surprisingly easy to make and fun to eat!
Recipe for 2 cups
- 6-8 small blood oranges, fewer if large – see these instructions on preparing orange peels for molds.
- 1 ¾ cups freshly squeezed blood orange juice, strained to remove pulp
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon agar agar
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine blood orange juice, water, sugar, and agar agar. Bring to a boil, and continue boiling for 15-minutes. Pour into halved orange peels – see these instructions on using orange peels as molds. Enjoy!
Of all the berries I know, blackberries are my favorite. I adore their dark, rich, and sweet taste. This mold was inspired by the yummy blackberry and orange gelato made at my favorite hang out, Dolce Vita.
The merger of blackberries and oranges creates a clean and crisp flavor, while the addition of sweetened condensed milk and rum completes the citrus, berry, creamy, boozy experience.
To create this mold, I dissolved bloomed gelatin into heated water and freshly squeezed orange juice, then stirred in fresh puréed blackberries (seeds strained), rum, sweetened condensed milk, and a touch of vanilla.
My initial gelatinous experiment, the prosecco dreamsicle, is like a creamy mimosa. The top layer is made of orange juice, prosecco (an Italian sparking wine), and mandarin oranges. The bottom layer is sweetened condensed milk. Mandarin oranges are sweet, juicy, and textural – an excellent addition to gelatin molds.