If music be the food of love, as Shakespeare suggests, play on. For many of us, though, food itself feeds love, laughter and pretty much everything else we mark on Valentine’s Day.
Blood oranges are ideal for the holiday of love. They look ordinary, a little mottled maybe, among the other citrus fruits. But cut one open, and the ruby juices come forth. They’re a metaphor for all the people we know who, dressed in dark winter coats and hats, keep their passion under wraps…until Valentine’s Day, that is.
“Blood” orange can sound more Halloween than happy. The word sangre, Spanish for blood, gives us the word sangria. For that reason, and in case your valentine doesn’t want blood on the menu, I’m calling this “Sangria Sweet(heart) Tart.”
This is not a sophisticated dessert. Nor does it ask for pricey ingredients. What you must do is put your hands in the dough and get a little messy, a little sticky.
The pastry is blended much as you might make a piecrust, but you don’t have to roll it out quite a flat or as far. And, no, prepared crust won’t do, since you need sugar in this crust to balance the tart oranges.
(adapted from a recipe given to me by Marisa DelVecchio)
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar (about)
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. Salt if the butter is unsalted. If all you have is salted butter, omit salt.
½ cup chilled butter, cut into ½ inch pieces PLUS another 2 Tablespoons
10 blood oranges (Some may get mangled in the cutting process.)
Sift the flour with 4 tablespoons of sugar and the baking powder and salt. Add the a stick of cold butter, cut into pieces, and use your hands to rub the flour mixture and the butter together. Add ice water as needed just until the dough looks like big moist crumbs. Knead to combine. Then form into a patty and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
During that time, peel the blood oranges, removing as much of the white membrane (pith) as you can. Slice three of the oranges crosswise; these will be on top of the pastry, so try for uniform, good-looking pinwheels.
Then, take the remaining orange sections and remove as much pith as you can. Then cut them into chunks. Remove seeds. At this point, it’ll be clear why these are called blood oranges; your hands will look like Lady Macbeth.
Roll out the chilled pastry into a circle, about 1/4 inch thick. Place this one a parchment paper–lined flat cookie sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until chilled.
Arrange the orange sections on the pastry, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Put your best pinwheel cuts in the middle. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the oranges, slightly more if the oranges are very tart. Dot this with the remaining butter.
Fold up the pastry over the oranges, leaving most of the oranges uncovered. Sprinkle the whole thing with a dusting of sugar.
It’s best to chill this tart again, if time allows. If not, preheat the oven to 375° bake the tart for an hour, or until the fruit is bubbling. Let it cool and serve with whipped cream or H:
* Orange Muscat...one of many varieties of one of the oldest cultivated
grapes, orange muscat makes for a dessert wine that actually has a nice
orange snap to it.
* Another muscat grape, Muscat of Alexandria, makes for really nice, lighter
dessert wines from Sicily (Zibibbo) and Portugal and Spain (Moscatel).
Why are these good to consider? Blood oranges are Mediterranean, so eat
local, drink local.
* Dont think your guests will really like dessert wines? Try a semi-dry
riesling from the Finger Lakes of New York, or a sparkling wine (try a
splash of blood orange juice in the sparkling wine).
* A lot of beers are brewed with orange peel and spices...Blue Moon and
Ommegang Rare Vos are nice alternatives to wine. Finally, as a tea
drinker, orange flavored teas abound...those often go nicely with
A version of this appeared in 2011