Seville Orange Mousse with Almond Thins
Every year I welcome the arrival of the knobbly, thick-skinned Seville oranges into the greengrocer’s. Some years I get around to making marmalade, and some years life feels too busy. But I still gain a small pleasure from just seeing them. For me they are a true marker of the time of year, a clear signal that January will soon be February, as we inch slowly, slowly towards spring.
I have often thought it a shame that Sevilles were reserved almost exclusively for marmalade. Bitter and inedible raw, they do need to be cooked and sweetened considerably to make them palatable. This mousse was an experiment. I knew I wanted to harness their unique taste, as I felt it could offer something more complex than a standard orange. In the end I added the freshly grated zest of two clementines to the mousse; they added a floral citrus note that the Sevilles lacked. The result was a creamy, sharp and interestingly flavoured pudding that was a success even with the kids.
The almond thins are a doddle to make. You bake them flat in a large tray then cut them up after cooking. No messing around with rolling pins and cutters. What could be easier?
- For the mousse:
- 2 Seville oranges, each cut into 6 wedges
- 500 ml cold water
- 3 sheets of leaf gelatine
- 2 eggs
- 150g caster sugar
- 300ml double cream
- Finely grated zest of 2 clementines
- For the almond thins:
- 250 g butter, softened
- 200 g golden caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 250g plain flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 200g flaked almonds
Start the mousse by putting the orange wedges and water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, prodding with a wooden spoon from time to time to release the juice from the flesh and the oils from the skin. Strain into a measuring jug. It should yield approximately 150ml orange juice – top up with a little cold water if it is slightly under. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
Soak the gelatine sheets in a shallow bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Remove the sheets, squeeze out excess water and add to the orange juice, stirring until they dissolve. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl and stir the sugar into them. Set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, taking care there’s no contact between bowl and water. Using an electric whisk, beat the egg and sugar until the mixture thickens and turns pale yellow. Turn off the whisk and lift it a little out of the bowl – if you trail it slightly above the mixture it should leave a thin ribbon in its wake. You can use a balloon whisk rather than an electric one but it will take a fair bit of work to get to this ‘ribbon stage’. Pour in the double cream, orange juice and clementine zest and continue to whisk for a few moments until well combined. Transfer to a large serving bowl, or individual glasses if you fancy, and leave to set in the fridge. This will take 2–3 hours in a large bowl, or an hour or so in small glasses.
To make the biscuits, preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas 3. Beat the butter with the sugar in a food mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the egg, flour and vanilla extract, and beat again until a smooth paste is formed.
Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper and scoop half the mixture on to the centre of each sheet. Use a spatula to spread the mix outwards in a thin layer until it covers the sheet. Sprinkle the almonds over evenly. Bake for about 15 minutes until a pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and, using a sharp knife, cut into squares. Leave to cool on the baking trays. Stored in an airtight tin, layered with baking paper, they will keep for several days.