Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Orange + Chocolate

Two days away from Valentine's Day and I'm here to share my love with you.  My love of the perfect pairing of orange and chocolate, that is.  Last month I made marmalade.   Not once, but twice...the first time with navel oranges and the second go-round with blood oranges.  Both came out well, though a tad on the thick side.  Delicious nonetheless.  I've had many a morning breakfast of toast loaded with marmalade.

Then I got to thinking about crêpés   A little more specifically...crêpés filled with orange marmalade and drizzled with chocolate.  I thought about those crêpés for days.  Last Monday night, I mixed the batter and set it in the fridge to chill overnight.  The next morning, there I was, melting butter, chocolate, and half and half over a simmering pot of water for ganache.  That was one decadent breakfast, maybe a little over the top for a Tuesday morning, but absolutely worth it.

What to do with the leftover ganache?  After an attempt at truffles that turned out too soft, I let the ganache chill while I considered other options.  I decided on a sandwich cookie.  The cookies alone are crispy around the edges, a little chewy in the center and full of zest.  Once you sandwich them with the chocolate and let them sit for a bit, those cookies become just the right amount of chewy.  The recipe is a derivation on vanilla wafers.  Nickel-sized amounts of dough are piped through a pastry bag and ready in no time, baking to the size of a silver dollar.  

Make these in time for Valentine's Day, give them to a special someone in your life,  and they'll know how much you love them.

Chocolate Ganache
Makes scant 3/4 cup

4 oz. chocolate chips
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1 tablespoon butter

Put all ingredients in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Stir frequently until chocolate has melted and ingredients are well-mixed.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  

Orange Wafer Cookies
Adapted from Amanda Clarke's Homemade Nilla Wafers recipe
Makes about 6 dozen 

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 large egg white
1 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1 1/2 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon milk
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment.  In a large bowl, cream butter with the salt and sugar.  Add egg white and mix well.  Stir in extract, orange zest, and milk.  Whisk together flour and baking powder and add gradually to creamed mixture, scraping down sides as necessary to incorporate all ingredients.  Fill a piping bag, that's fitted with a plain pastry tip (I used a 5pt tip), with the batter, and pipe nickel-sized amounts of dough 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges just begin to golden.  Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool on a wire rack.  

To make sandwich cookies:  Fill another piping bag with the ganache.  Using a plain pastry tip, I used a Wilton No. 12, pipe enough ganache so that it will move to the edges when you sandwich the wafers.  

The ganache may not be enough to sandwich all the wafers...and that's okay.  They are wonderful on their own.