There are few fruits that I am happier to see come into season than blood oranges. (Meyer lemons and maybe some of the rarer berries also top this list.) There's just something about blood oranges that is so exciting, cutting into the fruit to discover a deep, dark, rich, red gradient inside. And, in my opinion, they just taste better than regular oranges, like they're packed with even more orange-y flavor.
Usually, I'm too impatient with blood oranges to bother doing anything but eat them just as they are or, at most, muddle them into a cocktail to achieve a gorgeously colored drink. But finally I was able to hold off long enough to actually make dessert with them--yay, self-restraint! I'd been wanting to try this tart concept ever since my friend (of caramel brandy hard sauce fame) mentioned to me she had made a tart with oranges and Chinese five spice powder, and I thought it would be a perfect dessert for Chinese New Years: blood orange, honey-glazed tart with a Chinese five spice crust and soft-whipped almond cream. (--oranges, nuts, and the color red all being good-luck symbols for the new year celebration.) I really loved how the tart came out, with the soft, candied oranges glazed in sweet orange-honey against the hint of spiciness in the tart crust itself. And the soft-whipped almond cream adds the perfect touch of creaminess to balance out the intense orange and spice underneath.
Happy Lunar New Year! and, as the Vulcans say, "Live Long and Prosper." :-)
(p.s. five brownie points to whoever can post the Vulcan reply in the comments without looking it up!)
Read on for recipe...
Blood orange honey-glazed five spice tart with almond cream
makes one 9" tart
260 grams AP flour
1 1/2 tspn five spice powder
1/4 cup sugar
7 Tbspn butter, cold and cut in pieces
1 egg yolk
3-4 Tbspn cold water
1. Using a food processor or pastry cutter, mix the flour, five spice powder, and sugar until combined. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the size of small peas.
2. Add the egg yolk and gradually add the water just until a dough begins to form when you press it between two fingers. Do not overmix.
3. Form the pastry into a ball and refrigerate for at least one hour. (or stick it in the freezer for a shorter amount of time.)
4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
5. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and press the dough into the tart pan. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork, cover with parchment paper, and weigh down using dry beans or pie weights. Return to freezer for a few minutes if the dough has softened.
6. Bake for ~13-15 minutes until the edges just begin to turn golden. Remove the beans and parchment paper and continue to bake for 3-5 minutes more, until the crust has completely turned golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
8-12 small or medium thin-skinned blood oranges, in 1/8" thick slices
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a large pot.
2. Add the orange slices to the boiling sugar water and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the pith turns translucent. Be careful not to overcook the oranges because they will become mushy.
3. Strain and remove the orange slices from the liquid. Reserve 2 Tbspn of the liquid. Lay the orange slices out on a wire mesh rack to drain and cool.
2 Tbspn orange candying liquid, reserved from oranges
1/4 cup honey
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the reserved liquid and the honey. Simmer for about 3-5 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the top.
2. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. The mixture should be syrupy.
for almond cream:
1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbspn powdered sugar
dash of almond extract
1. In a small saucepan, bring the chopped almonds and 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover tightly with a lid, and let cool. Continue to let the cream steep, covered, in the refrigerator until cold, preferably overnight.
2. Strain out and discard the almond pieces from the cream. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream.
3. Whip the cream just until you reach soft peaks (I like mine extra soft for this purpose.) Gently stir in the powdered sugar and almond extract.
To assemble the tart, layer the orange slices in the cooled tart shells, brushing the honey generously on each layer. Serve with almond cream.