JUMP TO RECIPE -
Now these have a tripartite provenience (I suddenly felt like using big words): a/ Christmas is coming and I fancied doing something orangey. I have seen those ready-made orange slices sold to hang on your tree – presumably, you wouldn’t EAT them as it will transpire later, might have been sprayed with hair spray most probably. And an urge to make them has surfaced, weighed by the burden of heritage from the household where they made own candied peel. b/ I had a surplus post-mince pie pastry lounging around and no more mincemeat and c/ have at least one Christmas guest who claims the mince pies would be delicious if it wasn’t for that manky stuff in them (her words – not mine or the Weather Man’s).
The orange slices are fun to make – until you realise you have a tray full of surplus ones and God only knows how to store them. Mine have been knocking about the kitchen, shifted here and there until I sighed, got on to cutting little pieces of parchment to layer between the slices and stored them in a tin. Otherwise they would stick to each other like no tomorrow (hence I figure that those sold in shops must be sprayed with nasty stuff to harden them).
I can’t honestly say which filling is nicer – the bonus about the ricotta one I guess that you can stick the leftovers into a buttered and floured ramekin and bake for a mini cheesecake – to bake alongside your Christmas stollen, perhaps…
- For the candied orange slices:
- 1 orange, thinly sliced
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 cup water
- For the pastry:
- 250g plain flour
- 75g ground almonds
- 50g icing sugar
- 150g softened butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp. iced water
- zest from an orange
- For the almond filling:
- 50g unsalted butter, softened
- 50g caster sugar
- 50g ground almonds
- 25g flour
- 1 medium free-range egg
- zest grated from one orange
- For the ricotta filling:
- 220g ricotta, well drained
- 60g caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg yolk
- zest grated from one orange
To make the candied orange slices, bring the water with the sugar to the boil, drop in the orange slices in a single layer, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes, turning the slices over halfway through. Leave to cool in the syrup (but be careful so it doesn’t all set!), then carefully lift the slices and place on a tray lined with parchment. Reserve the syrup – it’s divine.
To make the pastry, mix the flour with the almonds, the icing sugar and the zest, then dice in the butter and rub in or mix everything in a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat the egg yolks with the iced water and pour in. Mix or knead to a soft dough, form a ball, wrap it in cling film and chill for at least half an hour.
To make the almond cream, beat the butter in a mixer (or a little blender, seeing as the amounts are small and likely to be dispersed around the sides of a large mixer), add the sugar and beat together until smooth. Mix the flour with the ground almonds and beat into the mix. Add the egg and the orange zest and beat well together. Chill until you’re ready to fill the tartlets.
To make the ricotta filling, beat the ricotta with the sugar until smooth and creamy, add the egg, then the egg yolk, beating continuously, and the orange zest.
Roll out the pastry not too thin, about 5mm, then cut circles much larger than the tartlet tins (mine were 9cm in diameter). Insert them into the tins pressing down around the edge and cut off any overhanging pastry. Prick the pastry with a fork all over and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5. Place the chilled pastry cases on a baking sheet and fill them to about ¾ height, don’t overfill.
Place an orange slice on top of the filling and bake for about 20 minutes: the pastry edges will brown and the filling shout be just set – difficult to check if the orange slice covers it all, but don’t bake longer than 30 minutes, especially the almond ones.
Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Unmould them when cold and drizzle some reserved orange syrup* on top before serving.
*if the syrup has set, add a little fresh orange juice to it, heat it up in a microwave and mix in.