Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Mandarin oranges - how sweet thou art

Kung Hey Fat Choi!! Its Chinese New Year once more and this time we're welcoming the year of the tiger! Of the many things I associate closely with CNY, mandarin orange is one that comes to mind easily - sweet and much easier to peel compared to other varieties of orange, its also traditionally seen as a symbol of good fortune and abundance.

We had invited some friends over to our place for dinner on the second day of CNY and when I started thinking what to make for dessert my mind kept going back to the sweet lingering taste of the mandarin orange I had just finished munching a few minutes ago... it was settled then - I'm going to make use of those mandarin oranges I have lying around the house!

Given that we were having cheese fondue for dinner, I had to bear in mind that dessert couldn't be too heavy and definitely no more cheese! Dark chocolate always goes well with citrus so I decided on a mandarin orange infused dark chocolate mousse, set over soft butter génoise to balance out the rich creamy texture of the mousse.

Making the génoise and mousse was straightforward enough - I modified a baileys milk chocolate mousse recipe I had used previously by switching out the milk chocolate for dark and baileys for orange juice & zest. The resulting chocolate mousse had a distinct citrus taste set against the dark chocolate bitterness.

For decoration I was planning to peel orange segments clean of their inner translucent membranes such that their glaze showed off naturally on top of the mousse. What I didn't plan for though was the segments breaking into pieces as I peeled the membranes off! Nothing I did kept it together so I eventually gave up and used ready-peeled oranges instead... hehe =P I later learned that removing the inner membrane of a mandarin orange while leaving the segment completely intact is quite impossible by hand and usually done through a chemical process... urgh, guess i learnt it the hard way... To finish off, I made zigzag decorative pieces with some white chocolate I had at home, contrasting the white against the orange and chocolate.

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