The use of orange zest while bak­ing is a real sweet trick

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - MELISSA D’ARA­BIAN

When it comes to sweets, I have a sur­pris­ing trick up my sleeve. And the best part about it? It prob­a­bly won’t cost you a penny be­cause most likely you al­ready have it, but throw it in the trash. I’m talk­ing about orange zest, the thin outer skin of an orange. I don’t mean the white part, called the pith. That’s bit­ter. The zest is just the pa­per-thin layer of coloured skin, which has tons of fra­grant and flavour­ful oils. Those oils are per­fect for trick­ing us into think­ing some­thing is sweeter than it re­ally is. I use zest in cakes, muffins and cookie doughs.

It’s easy to build a stock of this in­gre­di­ent. Any time you grab an orange for a snack, take an ex­tra minute to run a wand-style grater or veg­etable peeler gen­tly over the peel, be­ing care­ful not to ex­tract any of the pith. The zest can be saved ei­ther by freez­ing it in a small con­tainer or by dry­ing.

To dry zest, place it in a 200 F (95 C) oven, turn off the heat and let it sit undis­turbed un­til the zest is dry, about 30 to 60 min­utes. Let cool com­pletely, then place the dried zest in a clean spice jar.

I’m shar­ing a sea­sonal favourite in our house — orange zest pud­ding with shaved dark choco­late.

Orange zest pud­ding with dark choco­late

The best tool for zest­ing cit­rus is a fine wand-style grater. Th­ese very sharp graters are easy to use and do an ex­cel­lent job of re­mov­ing the flavour­ful zest with­out get­ting the bit­ter white pith be­neath it.

Start to fin­ish: 20 min­utes, plus cool­ing Serv­ings: 4 1 3/4 cups (430 mL) low-fat or re­duced-fat milk 2 1/2 tbsp (37.5 mL) corn­starch 1/4 cup (60 mL) light brown sugar

Zest and juice of 1 large orange

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla ex­tract

Pinch of salt 2 ounces (58 g) dark or bit­ter­sweet choco­late, shaved us­ing veg­etable peeler or wand-style grater

In a large saucepan over medium heat, whisk to­gether the milk and corn­starch un­til dis­solved.

Add the brown sugar and con­tinue to whisk while bring­ing the mix­ture to a gen­tle sim­mer. Cook, whisk­ing con­stantly, un­til the milk thick­ens to a thick pud­ding, about 2 min­utes.

Whisk in the orange zest and juice, then re­move the pan from the heat.

Place the egg yolk in a small bowl.

One at a time, while whisk­ing, add a few ta­ble­spoons of the hot pud­ding to the egg.

Trans­fer the egg-pud­ding mix­ture to the saucepan with the re­main­ing pud­ding.

Re­turn the pud­ding to low heat and cook, whisk­ing con­stantly, un­til it just be­gins to bub­ble. Re­move from the heat, whisk in the vanilla ex­tract and salt, then di­vide be­tween 4 par­fait glasses. Chill for at least 1 hour.

Just be­fore serv­ing, top each cup with shaved choco­late.

Wash­ing­ton Post/Files

Bay comes through as a back­ground flavour in th­ese bread sticks.

The As­so­ci­ated Press/Files

Orange zest pud­ding with shaved dark choco­late is a flavour­ful and colour­ful mar­riage of in­gre­di­ents.

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