Friday 11 March 2016

Candied orange tart

The edge is a bit rubbish, yes. I'm blaming the tin.

You might see this as a giant and very grown up Jaffa Cake. Grown up in size, in flavour and in richness - oh it's rich - but sharp too. I needed something to serve with my new favourite thing: chocolate ice cream. It needed to be sweet and sharp and fruity... in February  Orange was the only way to go. I am immovable in my conviction that very few fruits complement chocolate. Orange obviously. Mint. Um... a raspberry at a push... if it was raspberry or death. But don't you go pointing a strawberry at me, or banana. Yuk. I've even seen - sweet Lord - pears with chocolate. That offends twice.

Candied orange is basically candied peel with the fruit left on. It's easy to prepare, the only thing to watch is the timing. Too long on the boil and your flesh will fall off the pith. No one wants that. It's a delightfully shiny and succulent thing, candied orange slices. They gleam appetisingly.

There are five element to this tart:
1. sweet pasty case
2. bitter chocolate lining
3. orange mascarpone cream filling
4. candied orange slices
5. orange syrup glaze

Luckily four and five are made together. It's not that onerous. The biggest faff is the case. This makes one 8" tart which will feed eight people, unless they are family, in which case it's four. 
You MUST serve this with my chocolate ice cream. It's the law. A little honeycomb would bring a welcome sugary crunch too, or some crystallised hazelnuts.

1. Sweet pastry case 

Makes two 8" cases.

Crumble together, by hand or in your food processor. By hand or by processor blend 250g plain flour, 100g icing sugar, sifted and pinch of salt with 100g butter, cubed until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Gradually mix in 2 eggs, beaten. When the mix comes together, gather into a ball and knead a few times until it is smooth. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for two hours. if you don't relax the dough your pastry will shrink. You don't want this. Pâte sucrée is usually easy to work but it helps a lot if it's chilled.

Once relaxed, split the dough and roll out half to the thickness of a pound coin, until it's a few inches bigger than your tin. I do this on a piece of floured baking paper as it makes it much easier to transfer to the tin and manipulate. Now drape the pastry over the tin and gently ease it up to allow it to drop to the bottom of the tin. Don't squidge it in, it will thin and tear. Carefully push the pastry into the corners and leave a good overhang. Repair any holes with additional pastry. Place the tin in the fridge for another half hour.

Blind bake at 180°C for 20 minutes. Be careful to support the sides of the case. I sometimes put greasproof paper in the case and then push in another tin. This will only work if you have two similar cake tins though. Else use, paper and coins/beans/rice; whatever you normally do. After twenty minutes remove your blind beans/coins/rice and cook for a further ten minutes to crisp up the base. You're looking for a pale golden brown colour.

2. Bitter choocolate lining

Melt 200g (one bar) of 70% chocolate, the best you can afford, in a glass bowl over boiling water until it melts. Stir in a tablespoon of double cream. This stops the chocolate setting so hard that it creates delicious but potentially lap damaging, table shrapnel. Did you know Shrapnel was a British general? True.

Once the tart case is cold, brush or back-spoon the chocolate paste all around the bottom and half way up the sides. As well as giving flavour and texture this also prevents the cream turning the bottom soft, so the tart will last longer - yeah, as if!

3. Orange mascarpone cream

Whisk 250ml of double cream until it thickens. Then beat in a couple of tablespoons of mascarpone. Into the cream - directly over the bowl, to catch the orange oil - finely grate the zest of one large orange. Mix.

Don't add the zest to the unwhisked cream. The orange oil inhibits the whip. I don't know why and I need to find out. Strangely there's nothing on the internet.

4 and 5. Candied orange slices in an orange syrup.

Gently heat a half litre of orange juice - real orange juice, not concentrate, either hand squeezed or hand bought - with 500g of caster sugar. Bring to the boil slowly so that the sugar has all dissolved. Boil for a few minutes. Add two oranges, halved and then sliced, as below, discarding the ends. Ideally these would be thin skinned fruit. We are trying for minimum pith here. The slices shouldn't be wafer thin or they will dissolve. Bring back to the boil then reduce to a simmer and leave on the heat for about 25 minutes. You'll see a change in the rind and pith as in the picture. The key word is 'candied'. They should look translucent, like boiled sweets. If in doubt, remove a piece and allow to cool. They will be very, very hot! The rind should yield to the tooth easily. If not, simmer for another five minutes. Set the whole lot aside to cool. 

To assemble:

Fill the chocolate lined case almost to the brim with the cream. Arrange orange slices on the cream in whatever pattern appeals. You probably won't want to use them all. Drizzle the whole thing generously with orange syrup. especially around the sides of the top, where the cream can be seen. Put in the fridge to firm up for 30 minutes or so.

This was the ugly prototype, when I didn't realise the danger of too high a chocolate lining.
No guest was injured in the eating of this tart. This was a family affair.

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