California Cuties: Citrus Tian Dessert

Blood Orange Tian

It’s nearly April, and with Spring having done its annual thing, the Acer on my patio is finally beginning to leaf out, I’ve replenished my sadly neglected herb box, and it seems everything is in riotous bloom.  The season has had a positive effect on me as well, because I actually completed a Daring Bakers Challenge within respectable time of its March 27 reveal date.  Will wonders never cease?

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.  Oh the possibilities for this particular challenge.

If you’ve not heard of a tian before, it’s a layered dessert comprised of a pate sablee, marmalade, flavored whipped cream and fruit — and in the case of this month’s challenge — oranges.  Living in the Golden State, or Southern California in particular, citrus is plentiful.  At this time of year, there are  lemons, Meyer lemons, Persian limes, key limes, pink grapefruit, yellow grapefruit, cara oranges (they’re pink inside), Valencia oranges, blood oranges, and Cuties.

Cuties are California mandarins.  They’re tiny, compact orbs of sweet, segmented deliciousness — especially if you want something for a healthy snack.  And since they were on sale at Henry’s, I decided they’d become the base of my dessert.  Thanks very much to Jennifer for this challenge.  A tian is a dessert that can be made ahead of time in parts, then assembled right before you’d like to enjoy it.

Wait — have you ever made marmalade?

Ah, well.  Therein lies the rub.


Cutie Marmalade Tian with Blood Oranges and Cara Orange Caramel Sauce

For the Pate Sablee:

2 lg. egg yolks at room temperature
6 T + 1 tsp sugar  (2.8 oz; 80 g.)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. unsalted butter, ice cold, cubed
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1-1/2 c. + 2 T all-purpose flour  (7 oz; 200 g.)
1 tsp. baking powder

Put the flour, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

In a separate bowl, add the eggs yolks, vanilla extract and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is pale. Pour the egg mixture into the food processor.

Process until the dough just comes together. If you find that the dough is still a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again to form a homogenous ball of dough. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degree F.

Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a 1/4- in. thick circle.

Using a 6″ round, cut out circles of dough and place on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet. Reserve the scraps for another use.  Bake the disk for 20 minutes or until the circle of dough is just golden.  Allow to cool completely.

Cuties Citrus Marmalade Cutie Vanilla Bean Marmalade

For the Marmalade:

2 lbs. mandarins
1 meyer lemon
5 c. water
2 Madagascar vanilla beans, split and cut in half crosswise
3-1/2 c. sugar

Cut citrus crosswise into 1/4-in.-thick slices. Remove any seeds.   Transfer fruit to a large bowl or pot and add 5 c. water making sure fruit is covered. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature 1 day. Transfer fruit mixture to heavy large pot. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans into pot and add beans. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until citrus rind is tender and fruit falls from rind.  Stirring occasionally, cook about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add sugar, stirring gently until sugar dissolves. Return to heat and boil gently until mixture is 210°F, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Allow to cool to room temperature before pouring into jars. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to 2 months.

For the Orange Segments:

4 blood oranges, peeled, pith removed

Cut oranges into segments over large plate, making sure to reserve juice. Add segments to the plate along with the juice.

For the Caramel:

1 c. sugar (7 oz; 200 g.)
1-1/2 c. + 2 T freshly squeezed orange juice (14 oz; 400 g.)

Pour sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.

Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.

Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the orange tians.

For the Whipped Cream:
1 c. whipping cream (7 oz; 200 g.)
3 T  hot water
1 tsp. gelatine
1 T  powdered sugar
1 T marmalade (see recipe above)

2 pinches ground allspice

In a small bowl, add gelatine and hot water, stirring well until the gelatine dissolves. Let gelatine cool to room temp.

Combine cream in a chilled bowl. Whip cream on low speed until cream starts to thicken, about one minute. Add powdered sugar. Increase speed to medium-high. Whip cream until beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add cooled gelatine slowly while beating continuously. Continue whipping until cream is light and fluffy and soft peaks form. Transfer whipped cream to a bowl and fold in marmalade.

Marmalade Cream


Assembling the Dessert:

Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer.

Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Lay out 6 cookie cutters onto the parchment paper/silicone.

Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.

Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use.

Line the 6-inch cake pan with removable bottom with plastic wrap.  Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of the pan. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.

Layer 1

Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of the cake pan, add the whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills the pan in an even layer over the oranges.

Tian Layer 2

Using an offset spatula or small spoon, spread a small even layer of marmalade carefully over the cream layer.  Trim the plastic wrap so no excess is showing.

Tian Layer 3

Carefully place the circle of dough (cookie) over the marmalade layer. If necessary, trim cookie disk with kitchen scissors to fit the pan.  Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.

Cookie Layer

Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for 15-20 minutes.

Unmold the dessert by pressing upward on the bottom of the pan to remove the layered dessert.  Place a plate over the top and invert.  Remove the bottom of the pan and the plastic wrap.  You should see a beautiful layer of orange segments.

To serve, slice, taking care to cut through the cookie layer, and spoon over some caramel orange sauce.

Blood Orange Tian

Challenge Notes:

Variations allowed:
• You can choose to serve the dessert ‘family-style’ and don’t have to make it in individual portions
• You can use your favorite “Pate Sablee” recipe if you have one, but it must be a pate sablee
• You can add any additional flavoring to your whipped cream
• You can play with different citrus in this dessert (grapefruit, blood orange, lemon) at any step in the recipe.
However, you must make the tart dough, the whipped cream, the caramel sauce, citrus segments and marmalade.

Preparation time:
– Pate Sablee: 20 minutes to make, 30 minutes to rest, 15 minutes to roll out, 20 minutes to bake
– Marmalade: Overnight soaking, 2+ hours cooking time, cooling and refrigeration time
– Orange segments: 20 minutes, overnight to sit
– Caramel: 15 minutes, overnight to sit
– Whipped Cream: 15 minutes
– Assembling: 20 minutes
– Freezer to Set: 15-20 minutes

Equipment required:
• 6″ cake pan with a removable bottom.
• A food processor (although the dough could be made by hand too)
• A stand-up or hand mixer
• Parchment paper or a silicone sheet
• A baking sheet
• A rolling pin

Blood Orange Tian

Kelly’s Notes:

  • The cookie dough is quite interesting.  It’s very firm, and even when chilled, is a bit dense.  Don’t let it get the best of you.  Patch up the “cracks” and carry on.  You can make this, let it cool, and then wrap it well and save it for a couple of days if you need to.
  • The marmalade recipe I used with the vanilla beans is completely divine.  It’s from Epicurious.  The aroma is amazing, and the flavor even better.  Forget about that tart marmalade you might be thinking of.  This is sweet, and dying for you to slather on a scone or biscuit.  Truly.  It is a bit wet, however.  Let it sit, cool, then refrigerate.  It will be fine.  Share it with your friends, or keep it all for yourself.  Dig in with a big spoon when no one is looking, but don’t forget to wipe your face.
  • The stabilized cream is a must for this.  If you decide to scratch the gelatine in this, you’ll be sorry. Deal with it.  And while you’re at it, have fun with some flavorings.  I thought about cardamom, but went with allspice since someone gave me some lovely allspice berries and I have a brand new spice grinder.  Thanks, Cora!  If you’re bold, you might even go with herbs here.  Thyme would be so nice, but only a tiny bit.  Put it in the gelatine mixture with the hot water.
  • Some of the original directions were a bit confusing to me.  Chalk it up to my lack of attention, but when you make the caramel, you’ll probably need a completely separate supply of orange juice.  I did.  But I also considered draining the juice of the segments I’d allowed to sit overnight.  I think that’s the better idea because my caramel was a bit thin.  I should have drained the segments and used that juice to add to the hot sugar.  I know — hind sight.
  • The plastic wrap worked perfectly.  The dessert unmolded just right.  If you very, very lightly spray the cake pan with oil, it should work as well.
  • I’m sure there are more notes, but dang I’m glad this is over.

The moral to this challenge is that if you have a good hard cookie, some jam, good fruit, and a sturdy creme (think mascarpone here), you can make a tian.  Oh, those Spring and Summer possibilities!

Blood Orange Tian