This February 14th Day (known in some circles as "Single Awareness Day"), we'll be celebrating the orange. I have nothing against chocolate - in fact I am sitting in my kitchen in sweet bliss munching on Bissinger's Dark Chocolate Wine Grapes which counts as one of my fruits for the day.
But this Sicilian Orange Tart - sparkles - in aroma and taste. It brightens the kitchen - it lightens winter.
True - it emerges from the oven a wee bit homely. Lightly browned - asking for a dusting of confectioner's sugar. Chocolate shavings wouldn't hurt.
As winters go - we are a balmy 27 degrees F which is most welcome after two days of 1 degree F.
The only snow is in the back of the yard waiting for longer days of sun.
It's coming. But if the days are not long enough, this dessert brings the sun into the kitchen long after our nurturing star has left.
The Sicilian Orange Tart is from Giuliano Hazan's Every Night Italian. He promises "a refreshing and aromatic dessert that leaves a clean taste in your mouth. It has received rave reviews whenever I have made it."
The orange tart lives up to its press. My February-Minnesota kitchen was an orange grove for a few hours. My daughter was shocked that I was going to let it sit in the fridge over night - telling me I shouldn't tease her with baking aromas.
And it was easy - I am a non-baker who likes to estimate and add pinches and fistfuls of stuff - and not rely on things such as measuring spoons. But I followed the recipe and dotted my i's and crossed my t's and was rewarded with a smooth, sublime tart that gave me the warm Sicilian sun.
Sicilian Orange Tart (Crostada all'arancia)
Grated zest of 2 oranges
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter cut into 12 pieces
3 extra-large egg yolks (I used large)
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon ice water or more if needed (I needed 3)
2 extra-large eggs (I used large)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (the juice from the zested oranges is usually sufficient)
You will need an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
*If you can look past the sugar, this is breakfast. Orange juice and eggs. Check off another fruit for me and protein.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. For the crust: Zest your oranges. Make the crust by placing the flour, sugar, butter, egg yolks, orange zest and salt in the food processor. Process it until it is well mixed. Add the ice water and process again until a dough is formed. If the mixture is dry add a little more water - 1 teaspoon at a time. (I did need 3 teaspoons - not surprisingly as the kitchen is dry these days and the furnace was working away!)
3. Remove dough from processor (carefully!) and place it on the removable bottom of the tart pan. (Note: Next time I will spray the tart pan a bit.) Using a rolling pin, roll dough until the dough is 1/4 inch thick - allowing the dough to extend over the edges. Carefully slide the removable bottom off the edge and lift it into the tart pan. Press the dough against the sides of the pan and trim any overhang.
4. Cover the dough with aluminum foil and weight it down with rice or dried beans (or pie weights!). Bake for ten minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake for another ten minutes.
5. While crust is baking, juice your oranges. Put eggs and sugar in the bowl of a mixer and beat at high speed until pale, yellow ribbons form - 2-3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and pour in your orange juice beating for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
6. Pour mixture into baked crust and place tart in oven. Bake until the filling is set and the top is browned - about 40 minutes. Allow the tart to completely cool before serving. Hazan advises putting it into the fridge - and I let if chill there over night. (Love make-ahead-desserts even if my daughter doesn't.)
And if your heart is set on chocolate for Single Awareness ... make that Valentine's Day, remember that President's Day is a good day for a tart... and Carnevale... and Leap-Year-Day... and you really don't need an excuse to make a tart. Everything should be celebrated, right? Surprise someone and make it "just because." But - do make it.