Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blood Orange Mousse with Ginger-Orange Shortbread Triangles

It’s orange season and my dear mother who lives in Naples, Florida recently sent me half a bushel of juice oranges to keep me healthy through the New York winter (which has ironically turned out to be one of the mildest in history). They were actually not oranges, to be 

technical, but Honeybell Tangelos, which yield the sweetest, most delicious nectar I’ve ever tasted. Unfortunately, their season is a short one, so I’ll have to wait till for next year’s crop to enjoy them again. In the meantime, I’ve also been indulging in Moro blood 

oranges from my local supermarket. The Moro is a colorful orange, with a red blushed rind and a deep red flesh. The flavor is sweet, with subtle raspberry undertones. I love to use them in a variety of desserts, including this pretty mousse, which I paired with a Ginger-

Orange Shortbread. It’s basically an orange curd fortified with a bit of gelatin, cooled, and then blended with softly whipped cream. Topped off with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, it makes a fresh, delightful dessert that conjures up images of palm trees swaying against a backdrop of dazzling Florida sunshine. 

Blood Orange Mousse with Ginger-Orange Shortbread Triangles
Makes 4 servings

Blood Orange Mousse:
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
1  teaspoon powdered gelatin
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup (4.6 oz/133 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (121 g) freshly squeezed blood orange juice
2 tablespoons (30 g) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely grated blood orange zest
8 tablespoons (4 oz/113 g) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) Campari (optional)
1 cup heavy cream

Make the mousse:
1. Pour the water into a medium saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let the gelatin soften for 5 minutes.
2. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium, heavy, non-reactive saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until blended. Stir in the orange and lemon juice and zest, salt, and butter and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 4 to 6 minutes (do not let the mixture boil, or it will curdle). The mixture should leave a path on the back of a wooden spoon when you draw your finger across it. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture. Immediately strain the mixture through the sieve, pressing it through with a rubber spatula.
3. Set the bowl containing the orange mixture in a large mixing bowl filled one-third of the way with ice water (be careful that the water doesn’t splash into the orange mixture). Stir the orange mixture frequently until it is slightly chilled, about 10 minutes.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream at medium-high speed to firm peaks. Gently fold the orange mixture into the whipped cream.
5. Divide the mousse among 4 wine glasses and refrigerate, loosely covered, for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve topped with whipped cream with a shortbread cookie.

Ginger-Orange Shortbread:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 300°F. Have a 9-inch cake pan at hand.
2. In a medium bowl, sift the flours together. Gently whisk to combine and set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment or beaters, beat the butter, sugar, ground ginger, salt, and orange zest at medium-low speed until well blended (don’t overbeat; you don’t want to incorporate a lot of air into the butter mixture). Add the crystallized ginger and mix until blended. Add the flour at low speed in three additions, mixing just until the dough starts to come together and is no longer crumbly. Press the dough evenly and firmly into the cake pan.  Press the back of a fork all around the edge. Bake the shortbread for 30 to 40 minutes, until it is just barely colored a creamy beige (don’t let it brown). Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
4. Using a sharp knife, cut the round (while the shortbread is still warm) into 12 wedges. Transfer the triangles to the wire rack and cool completely.