What do you get for the woman who has everything? This was the question I faced once again as Mother’s Day was fast approaching. My parents live a comfortable life, and if there was something that either of them truly want they can just get it. I really don’t like giving gifts just for the sole purpose of obligation. I like the anticipation that comes along with the hunt. The thrill when the idea for the perfect gift suddenly stumbles its way into your thoughts. The epiphany this time came in the form of Orangettes.
My mother’s favorite candy has always been those old fashioned jelly-like candies in the shape of orange segments with a sandy textured coating of sugar. The kind of coarse sugar that provides a gratifying crunch as you bite into them. And, though these were my mother’s ‘delicacy’ of choice, it seemed less than impressive to give her this prepackaged candy which costs less than five dollars. As my brain toyed around with this idea, combining it with my newly discovered passion for experimentation in the kitchen, the gift I settled on was homemade Orange Slices.
Orangettes are essentially a homemade version of the nostalgic candy described above. Orange peels that have been carefully cut into thin slices, blanched, candied, and coated. After having made them for her, I realize that this was the perfect gift in more ways than one. They truly were a labor of love.
After the slices have been cooked to a near jelly-like form, removing them and placing on wire racks, then finally coating them in either chocolate or sugar is tedious and time consuming. They are fragile, not wanting to stay in their original length cut – instead wanting to break off into nibs of orange crumbles. Tasting the same either way, they are definitely superior to their prepackaged counterparts. I’m still not sure if its the fact that they are homemade, or that I know how much love must go into them – either way, they are worth the effort – just like my mom. Crunchy on the outside, with a sweet jelly-like substance on the inside hinting of orange. Gorgeous to look at, these candies also make fantastic garnishments for other kitchen creations. Seemingly frail and fragile, and like lace when placed atop a piece of cake.
The batch I made called for four orange peels, which surprisingly makes a ton of orangettes. My Mothers Day gift turned into producing a gift basket showing the progression of an ogangette. Some were packaged without the sugar coating, some with the sugar coating, and finally some dipped in chocolate and dusted with cocoa. I was filled with excitement that can only come from concocting the unique gift you believe the receiver will enjoy.
These treats freeze well, to be enjoyed when craved. Admittedly, the orangettes in their purest form without coatings of any kind are the most delicate, and visually pleasing as a garnish to other foods. Now, every time I make a recipe that calls for oranges, I rescue the peels turning them into candy. With my stock of these candies becoming quite plentiful – what do I do with all of them…
For a while now, I have been wanting to give my hand a try at homemade ice cream. I purchased an ice cream machine nearly a year ago at a garage sale of one of my neighbors for $5 – she said it hadn’t been used much. Much? Not at all! As I unpacked the machine several months later, it was still in all of its original packaging. Apparently I received a much better deal than I realized.
Following one of the recipes that came in the pamphlet, buying only the best quality ingredients I could find. I have a real weakness for amazing ice cream, Ben and Jerry being two of my very best friends I can find comfort in. I did not want to disappoint myself, my child, my husband, nor my ‘friends’ in the freezer. I chose the recipe with the most amount of fat and sugar I could find. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, I tend to find a recurring theme with the things I concoct in the kitchen: fat and sugar. Following the recipe to a T, an hour later the custard was beginning to look like what I was longing for. Hmmm. Vanilla’s a bit boring. I searched through my kitchen in hopes of finding something to bring some interest to it. Orangettes – the scads I have in my freezer! Two large handfuls of orangettes and a large coarsely chopped dark chocolate bar later, I was proud of my efforts. Was there anything else I could do? The flavor in the orangettes is quite mild, so I decided to make a sauce with a more pronounced orange flavor to it. Creating a syrup out of orange juice, sugar, and Cointreau was just what it needed. I served it to company later that night, and received great reviews. And, thus the recipe for Fancy Nancy ice cream was born. My first original recipe! Feeling proud, I received a real confidence boost in the cooking department.
Part I: Premium Vanilla Ice Cream
*This recipe was provided by the Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker Instruction/Recipe Booklet CIM-20
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups Shatto whole milk (Shatto Milk Company is a local Kansas City dairy farm. I prefer it because growth hormones are not used, and it comes in glass containers which truly provide for a superior taste.)
- 1 Vanilla bean, split lengthwise (If you use vanilla beans often, you may want to check out Vanilla Saffron Imports. In the Kansas City area, I have spent as much as $9 for a single bean! This company sells them in bulk, at a much better price. I have purchased vanilla beans and extracts from them, and have not been disappointed.)
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ cup vanilla or regular sugar
- 2 tablespoons high quality Vanilla extract
Combine cream and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add vanilla bean and heat until mixture almost boils, about 5-8 min. Reduce to low heat.
Meanwhile beat yolks, sugar and vanilla extract in a small bowl until smooth. Add 4 tablespoons hot cream mixture to yolk mixture and stir until combined. Gradually add egg yolk mixture to warm cream mixture, stirring continuously to prevent the eggs from curdling. Cook over low heat until slightly thickened and mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 3-4 minutes. Cool completely (30 min. in ice bath). When cool, scrape seeds from vanilla bean and add to mixture – mix in well. Pour into freezer bowl, and let machine run about 30 min.
*When I make this, I do not add the vanilla bean in the mixture as suggested. Instead, I scrape the seeds out of the bean and blend the seeds as best you can with the milk before adding to cream. Reserve your vanilla pod, and place it in a small air tight container and fill with sugar. Over a week or so, the bean will infuse the sugar with vanilla flavor which you can use for something else. Waste not, want not – right?
Part II: Mix Ins
- 1 large dark chocolate bar(found in the candy isle) , coarsely chopped. (Buy the best quality chocolate you can afford. I tend to prefer Valrhona or Ghiradelli, but use your favorite kind of dark chocolate. If you do not like dark chocolate, you can use whatever you prefer – but, the dark chocolate tends to balance out the sweetness of the other ingredients.)
- 1 sandwich bag of homemade Orangettes (see recipe for Orangettes)
After ice cream mixture has thickened in machine, add one large dark chocolate bar, coarsely chopped, and ¾ of a sandwich bag of homemade orangettes (cut up a few into small bits, leaving the rest whole). Return to machine, and let combine for about 10 min.
Place ice cream in airtight container, and place in freezer for at least 2 hours.
Part III: Sauce
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tbs Cointreau liqueur
For the sauce, combine one cup orange juice, and one cup sugar in a small saucepan on medium heat. Stirring frequently, add 1 tablespoon Cointreau liqueur. Simmer on low heat till sauce thickens and looks syrupy. Turn heat off, and let cool. Will thicken further as it stands.
Part IV: Serve
Serve ice cream in bowls, drizzle with sauce, and top with leftover orangettes. Sprinkle with cocoa powder if desired.
As I sat down to the computer the following day to write down this recipe for future reference, I suddenly remembered: this isn’t my first recipe concocted. I have made one before, not too long ago. A blackberry compote made from a refreshing blend of plump, ripe, juicy blackberries infused with lime and sugar. I must say it is definitely crave worthy, and is the perfect accompaniment to pancakes, French toast, waffles and cakes. When served atop warm brownies, the result is divine! The syrup from the compote mixes with the slightly uncooked brownie batter creating a rich, complex burst of flavor in your mouth. Slightly tart from the lime, semisweet chocolate and blackberries balance it out nicely, bringing a childhood favorite up to par with an adult palette.