In my search for a dessert to follow Thanksgiving dinner, I had a lot of criteria that I wanted to fulfill. I wanted a dessert that would be light enough to follow a heavy dinner, but rich enough to feel like a decadent treat, flavorful enough to be unique, but not too sweet so that I could cater to the Asian palette. Furthermore, I was looking for a dessert that would have stunning presentation and simple ingredients. Combining a recipe for "chilled orange creams" from a dessert book I own (The Essential Dessert Cookbook – $2 on sale from Borders!) and a recipe for panna cotta with raspberry jelly from The Joy of Baking online, I inadvertently created a bavarois – a custard that is set with gelatin. It was a little bit awkward to serve my dessert to the guests without having a name for it, but I can now proudly present it to all of you as a tangarine bavarois with orange gelee. It consists of a tangerine flavored custard that is lightened with fresh whipped cream and set with unflavored gelatin, then topped with a thin layer of orange jelly that is flavored with tangerine and orange juices. Even though it was time-consuming (presumably because this is my first time making it and I was trying to combine 2 different recipes in my head haha), and even though I screwed up in 5 different places, I really really enjoyed this foray into decorative desserts :)
For the bavarois:
1/2 cup of freshly squeezed tangerine juice, strained
3 tsp of unflavored gelatin powder
4 egg yolks (I used 2 egg yolks + an equivalent amount of egg substitute)
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1 tsp of finely grated tangerine zest
3/4 cup skim milk
1 1/4 cup of heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the gelee:
1/4 cup of freshly squeezed tangerine juice
1/2 cup of orange juice
1 tsp of unflavored gelatin powder
1/4 cup of cold water
1. Chill a large bowl in the freezer. If you plan to unmold the bavarois onto plates, then grease your molds/cups with almond oil or melted butter. Otherwise you don't need to grease the cups.
2. In a small heatproof bowl, pour the tangerine juice and sprinkle the gelatin powder on top. Let sit for 5 minutes until gelatin powder becomes spongy. Boil water in a large pan and remove from heat. Slowly lower the gelatin bowl into the water so that it is half submerged but not touching the bottom of the pan. Stir the gelatin mixture until completely dissolved. Set aside to cool.
3. Stir together the egg yolks/substitute with the powdered sugar. Heat the milk, 3/4 cup of the cream and orange zest in a saucepan until scalded (small bubbles will form). Slowly pour hot milk into the egg and sugar mixture, stirring constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking. At this point I was supposed to return the mixture to cook until it becomes a custard that coats the back of a spoon, but I accidentally added the gelatin solution into it prior to cooking it (you normally add the gelatin after cooking).
4. After cooking the custard and adding the gelatin, stir in the vanilla. Pour the mixture into the pre-chilled bowl and stir occasionally as it cools, until it begins to thicken. (Here again I made the mistake of not letting it cool enough…)
5. Whip the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream until it forms soft peaks. Gently fold it into the cooled custard. (Because I didn't cool my custard enough, a lot of the volume in the whipped cream disappeared as I incorporated it. The purpose of adding the whipped cream is to increase volume and to lighten up the custard).
6. Divide the custard up into molds or cups and let chill in the refrigerator until set (2 hours or so).
1. In a small heatproof bowl, pour the cold water and sprinkle the gelatin powder on top. Let sit for 5 minutes until spongy.
2. Combine the juices and heat in a saucepan until just boiling. Remove from heat, and add to gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve.
3. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature, and spoon a thin layer over the set bavarois. Return to fridge until set (another few hours or so).
4. Decorate with chocolate shavings, orange wedges or slices of orange rind, or fresh fruit.
The end result was quite attractive and the recipe was very robust, I must say. When I was cooking the custard with the gelatin in it, it started to curdle and I remove it from the heat right away to save it, and in the end it came out just fine. The bavarois and the gelee also set very quickly, unlike the recipe suggested (4 hours per layer). I had an interesting time trying to make chocolate curls off of the back of a solid chocolate easter rabbit haha, so I ended up with chocolate shavings instead. I like the combination of chocolate and orange, I just wish I could have accentuated the chocolate a little bit more. The fruit was a last minute addition from a fruit salad that a guest brought over, and it really lit up the dessert with color, texture, and flavor. One of my regrets with this recipe is that I didn't add enough sugar, because I felt that the bavarois was a bit lighter than I would have liked. On the other hand, my parents seemed to really like the fact that it was so light. Guess you can't please everyone. I hope my guests enjoyed it, it really was a labor of love that took me the better part of the day to make (juicing all those tangerines…). The French are really some very amazing dessert makers, I love the subtlety and elegance of their recipes :)