Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lion in Winter

This is the brilliant, gem-like hue of blood oranges topping a curd made from blood orange and lemon: Winter citrus at its most vibrant and hope-affirming. The glints of brilliance and sparkle in the flesh of a blood orange suggest there is a warming sun and fruit growing somewhere: In places I miss so at this time of year.

I had ideas about trying out another of Simon Hopkinson's recipes with my precious pile of blood oranges but I finally became so fed up with the flavor-issue there that I elected to experiment with blood orange as a curd instead following the recipe I developed for the Lime Curd Tart in September. After dessert has concluded, it is a toss up of those who miss the shortbread crust (me) and everyone else who tried this dessert.

I will try it again with the crust to be sure but I am certain in the meantime that I am recommending to you a cheeky, lively little dessert all on its ruby-twinkling own. I served this with a Blood Orange Caramel Syrup and an almond lace and chocolate cookie. The cookie probably caused my nostalgia for the shortbread crust. The caramel syrup was cloyingly and irritatingly sweet, not worthy of quoting here even for purposes of consuming it over ice cream. Ah, but the curd, the curd is a keeper.

Blood Orange Dessert
Serves 6
adapted from my own tinkering with the genius Lime Curd Tart recipe of these same pages

4 blood oranges at room temperature
Grated zest of two of those same blood oranges
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
4 large eggs at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt

Remove the zest of 2 blood oranges with a microplane. Squeeze the oranges to make 1/2 cup of juice and set the juice aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar and orange zest. Add the eggs 1 at a time, and then add the orange and lemon juices and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes. The lime curd will thicken at about 175 degrees F, or just below a simmer. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Fill cups with the warm orange curd and refrigerate until set: At least 3 hours though more is best. Serve once set with sweetened whipped cream and fresh blood orange segments made from the remaining oranges.

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