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Monday, February 7, 2011

PPB: Love for Three Oranges

This is Love for Three Oranges from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pie & Pastry Bible. Did you know that Love for Three Oranges is a title of an opera? It's a story about a prince who's addicted to tragic poetry. The doctors told the King that the prince's sickness can be cured with laughter, so then a mission began to find someone that can make the prince laugh successfully. Several people tried to make the prince laugh, one of them was a witch. The witch tripped over while trying, revealing her underclothes. The prince laugh. Pissed off, the witch cursed the prince with obsession for "love for three oranges." So then the search began for the three oranges, which turned out to be real oranges that upon opening each one materialized into a princess. Strange right? But I do find that opera story often does not make sense - and they tend to be very melodramatic (kinda like soap opera but much fancier). You can read all about this opera on Wikipedia here.

Back to the tart. I have been wanting to make this tart for a while. It is now citrus season and when I walked into Whole Foods last week I saw both tangerine and navel oranges up front and they are both on sale. I bought both right away. I've read the recipes briefly several months ago and I remembered 2 of the oranges' component: navel oranges and orange juice. I don't remember the 3rd orange but Julie over at Rose's forum mentioned she has used tangerine and loved it so I figured I should be safe buying tangerine :).

This tart is time consuming to make. None of the steps are hard but they take time. So much so that Rose even breaks it down for you for 3 days.

I made it over 2 days - yes I am crazy that way. But I also made 1/2 recipe, baked in 4 mini tartlet pans.

Day 1: Make the crust (chill, shape in the pan, and freeze), make the orange curd, make the caramel sauce, macerate oranges.

The crust is called sweet cookie tart crust - basically it's pate sucree. Easy to make, combine the flour, sugar, and butter until the butter is pea-size, then add the egg yolk and cream mixture. Chill the dough for 20 minutes. While the dough is chilling, I made the orange curd.

Orange curd is pretty easy also, whisk yolks and sugar in a pot, pour in the tangerine juice, add a pinch of salt, and butter. Place the pot over low heat, stirring constantly. I cheat and use medium heat, it's okay as long as you watch it and stir constantly! When you see steam, lower the heat or take it off the heat, while still stirring constantly. I found that I have absolutely no patience stirring citrus curd for 30 minutes - which is about how long it takes when I use low heat, so I have been cheating (sorry Rose!). So far it's been successful :). Once the curd has thickened, strain it, and mix in the orange zest (the tangerine doesn't have very appetizing-looking skin, so I use navel oranges' zest :)).

Next, macerate the oranges. Peel and supreme navel oranges. 1/2 recipe means that I should use 2 oranges, but I find that I need 3 to get enough slices. Then make the caramel sauce - cook water and sugar until it's dark amber, then pour in the cointreau. Once the sizzling stop, add in orange juice. Put the pot back over the heat until the caramel melted. Once all the caramel has melted, pour the sauce over the orange slice. Cover and store away.

By this point I have spent the whole afternoon in the kitchen. Tired and orange-d out, I spent the evening watching some mindless TV show :).

Day 2: Blind bake the crust, make the sponge cake layer, make the orange curd cloud cream, make the caramel glaze, compose the tart.

Rose said that if the crust has been frozen for more than 6 hours, you can bake it without any weights (beans/rice). Mine's been frozen for about 24 hours so I bake it as is. While baking, the bottom of the crust keeps rising so I had to poke it with a fork several times. Next time I will use the beans to weigh it down as I like a poke-free blind baking. Not a big deal, but it's just annoying having to remember to keep checking.

The sponge cake layer is very similar to the biscuit roulade. It might just be biscuit roulade. One of my favorite type cakes. I made 1/2 recipe baked in a quarter sheet pan.

The orange curd cloud cream calls for making gelatin-stabilized whipped cream and then fold it into the tangerine curd.

For the caramel glaze, drain the oranges and pour the caramel sauce into a pot. Boil until reduced to 1/4 cup. This is where I messed up. Rose said to boil until thickened and bubbly. It was bubbly pretty fast but it's still more than 1/4 cup so I kept reducing it. Until it turned into caramel goo - as in, there is no way it's pourable or spreadable onto the oranges.

Tasting impressions:
Where do I begin? I feel like I am in orange heaven. If there is any tragedy here it would be the tragedy of not making enough tarts. The orange cream is the star of this dessert, combined with the sponge cake it is super good! This goes to the top of the list of favorite tart - I am already plotting making it again!


  1. Chica, you been BUSY! Just reading your post, and I'm tired, and I DID NOT DO THE RECIPE! But, oh my! how pretty they look, so good in fact that I want one and you know that it's crazy, since I'm not the fruit combo girl.

    They are wow! wow!

  2. I agree with Monica, I'm tired just from reading the recipe! I love your little tartlets and it seems like losing the caramel glaze didn't affect how delicious they are.

    Speaking of citrus, is it about time for the Seville oranges? I want to make seville curd again!

  3. Such an amazing story behind your tarts! I love the sound of the opera. It would be great to see one day. As for your tarts, they are also a work of art. Fantastic post!

  4. Wow - these are adorable! I love your presentation/photos.


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