Tell me if you think I am getting too piss elegant. Macerated Oranges with White Balsamic-Meringue & Caramel. I hope you think it’s fabulous. But you see fabulous should never be pretentious. It should walk right up to the line and spit on it. But it should never cross the line.
At least not on a blog– unless you have a piss elegant blog, in which case ignore everything I just said.
Seriously though, fancy is in the eyes of the beholder right? How many dishes have I presented here only to watch them sputter off and sink to the bottom of the blogoshere completely unloved? Well plenty let me tell you. Cakes with brandy, cookies with seeds, or vinegar for dessert. Stinkers all. Sound buzzer end of game.
Now I think I am a pretty good cook with pretty good instincts. But once the meal ends I just can’t get it right. I intended these orange slices with meringue cookies (made sweetly complex with white balsamic vinegar) to be a birthday dessert for a woman in her forties. I thought I was showing my love by thinking outside the cake box and presenting something special and far from mundane. But you should have seen the crest fallen looks I got when I discussed my menu with some of the guests. When it comes to dessert it seems I miss the mark more than I hit it. As my mother would say I gotta learn to lift the lid and aim better. Talk about piss elegant!
Because whenever I think something is innovative or just plain sublime I soon learn that plenty of people think it’s pretentious or worse yet… boring. But do all desserts have to have a peanut butter swirl to get some attention? Must it be the chocolate way or the highway every time? Layer cakes are delightful, but most frosting is just plain inedible. I know, I know except yours.
It looks like grumpy Greg has jumped out of the Betty Crocker cake box once again. But I can’t help it. Why do most desserts seem more suited to a 10 year old’s birthday party than a dinner party for grownups? Is it because once we have children we stop cooking for adults? I mean how can otherwise sophisticated eaters think a Blizzard from the DQ is a special treat? At what age did our collective palates stop developing when it comes to sweet treats?
Or maybe I am overreacting. Maybe the wrinkled noses weren’t over my dessert but the fact that I called it macerated. They do know I didn’t mean masticated, right?
serves 6 CLICK here for a printable recipe
- 6 navel oranges
- 1 c granulated sugar, divided
- 4 t white balsamic vinegar
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/4 c powdered sugar
- 1/2 t kosher salt, divided
- 1 T light corn syrup
- 2 T water
- 2 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 c heavy cream
- 1 T crème fraîche
For the Macerated Oranges : Using a sharp paring knife, cut peel and pith from oranges, then cut each section of fruit away from membranes, cutting as close to membranes as you can. Squeeze juice from membranes into a medium bowl. Add 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vinegar; stir to dissolve sugar, then add orange segments and gently stir to combine. Let mixture stand at room temperature until orange segments are flavorful, about 1 hour. (Macerated oranges keep, covered and chilled, for up to 1 day.)
For the meringue: Heat oven to 300 degrees F with rack in middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; lightly coat with nonstick spray. Fill a medium saucepan with 2 inches water; bring water to a simmer. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat together egg whites, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and the confectioners sugar on medium speed until well-combined, about 2 minutes. Set bowl over (but not touching) the simmering water, and whisk mixture until hot to the touch and not at all grainy, about 3 minutes.
Return bowl to mixer fitted with whisk and beat on medium speed until eggs are cool, thick and creamy (resembling shaving cream), about 10 minutes. Add 3 teaspoons vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt; beat on low speed just to combine.
Evenly spread meringue, about 1/4 inch thick, onto prepared baking sheet. Bake, rotating halfway through, until meringue is lightly golden, with no visible white patches, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheet on wire rack. Break meringue into large shards. (Meringue can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. If it loses its crunch, dry in a 300 degree F oven, 5 to 10 minutes.)
For the caramel: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar, corn syrup and water. Gently whisk together mixture to ensure sugar is damp throughout, being careful not to get sugar on sides of pot. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture is golden at edges, 5 to 6 minutes, then gently whisk until a golden caramel forms, about 1 minute more.
Remove pot from heat and, one ingredient at a time, carefully whisk in butter, cream, crème fraîche and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer caramel to a small metal bowl and chill over an ice bath, or refrigerate until cool. (Caramel keeps, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 2 weeks.)
To serve: In a small saucepan, gently heat caramel just until warm; remove from heat. Divide orange segments among 6 bowls; spoon a little macerating liquid over the top. Garnish with meringue shards, drizzle with caramel and serve immediately.
SERIOUS FUN FOOD