julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

Orange You Glad?

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“I, for one, would much rather swoon over a few thin slices of prime beefsteak, or one small serving of chocolate mousse, or a sliver of foie gras than indulge to the full on such nonentities as fat-free gelatin puddings.” – Julia Child 

I realized the Dessert section of my MtAoFC book was looking pretty clean and crisp, which can only mean one thing: I haven’t made enough French desserts. Looking for something relatively easy, I flipped through the section on Fruit Desserts and came across Oranges Glacees (glazed oranges – a cold dessert). The entire ingredient list contains two items: whole oranges and sugar. I decided, after the rounds I’ve gone with those ridiculous ladyfingers, I deserved an easy sweet, and so glazed oranges it was.

Sliced orange peel

I made two oranges, one for me and one for Ben, and started by doing something that seemed entirely unnatural – I used a vegetable peeler to remove the orange skin from the fruit. When all the orange peel was in strips on my counter, I sliced them into matchsticks and simmered them in water for about 12 minutes until they were tender. 

Meanwhile, I carefully cut the white part of the peel from the orange so that all I had left was a couple of fleshy oranges. I barely sliced the end off each so that it would stand upright with no trouble. I set them in a baking dish and drained the orange peel slices, patting dry on paper towels. 

In a stainless saucepan, I boiled water and sugar until it became a sort of glaze. As it began to thicken, I added the blanched orange peel and stirred it all together with a wooden spoon. I brought the mixture to a boil (watching carefully to make sure it didn’t burn, as I’ve made that mistake before) and when it looked ready – thick and syrupy – I poured it over the oranges in the baking dish.

Making the syrupy glaze.

I set the dish in the refrigerator to chill until it was time to eat them (which turned out to be a day and a half later), and went to clean the remaining cooled syrup from the saucepan. I made the mistake of licking the spoon – and realized the glaze tasted like melted orange candies. Whatever you do, do not lick the glaze spoon. Unless you have more will power than me, you will spend the next ten minutes scooping the stuff out of the pan with your finger. It was heavenly, sweet and orangey and delicious in every way. I finally had to wash the whole thing down the sink, because I could quickly see this spiraling out of control: Ben would come home to find me curled up on the kitchen floor, the saucepan hugged to my chest with a ring of sticky glaze around my mouth, smacking my lips, heavy eyelids battling a sugar-induced coma. It was too much for even me to bear. So don’t be like me. Don’t lick the spoon. 

Delicious glazed orange

When the time finally came to taste the oranges, I took them from the fridge and placed one on a plate – Ben opted to eat his out of the baking dish. I was surprised to see the glaze was still soft, having formed little pools at the bottom of the dish. I used a knife and fork to cut mine into slices, which I ate one by one. While the dessert was good, it just tasted like a sweeter orange. The glaze didn’t seem to create an outer layer like I had expected – it was light and barely noticeable, except for the occasional added sweetness when I would taste a slice where glaze had dripped down the side. But Ben cracked the case by dipping one of his orange slices in the sugary syrup at the bottom of his dish – that did the trick. The flavors really came together. The glaze was light and sweet, and the orange peel strips were nice and soft, and didn’t taste nearly as bitter as I had expected. The dish finally seemed more like a dessert and less like a sweet summer snack. I think if we had eaten these oranges right away, the glaze would have been stronger, but because we waited a day, the fruit had absorbed much of the syrup before we could really experience it. Nevertheless, this dish was definitely a success.

So this summer, when temperatures are rising and you need a break from the heat, remember this recipe. It’s easy, quick, and delicious, and the cool, light sweetness is sure to give you a much needed respite from the summer sun.

Happy cooking!
– Jessica

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