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Imbolc and Coconut Snow Oranges

Well, in keeping with my tradition of commenting inappropriately on misappropriated pagan holidays, here's my Imbolc post.

Imbolc was kind of a bust, but kind of awesome. Actually, I think the technical cross-quarter is today, but we had a little Brighid feast on Friday for the full moon.

It has not been above 0ºF since Thursday, and even then it only got up to 5º. It's currently -11º. So, yeah, living in Minnesota for the winter screws up Imbolc plans. Nathan is the only person who showed up, despite several others who said "Yeah, we'll be there" and then "Um, we might be there" and then "It's just too damn cold." So thank you, dear Nathan, for braving the arctic chill for us!

One of my Imbolc traditions that I've been doing for about 10 years now is that every year I make Chinese Snow Oranges, since I have this weird obsessive-compulsive thing about eating orange food on this holiday. They're god, but they're always way too sweet. This year I changed the recipe and I think I've got a winner:

3pktsunflavoured gelatin
3/4cupscold water
116oz. cancoconum cream (not coconut milk!)
211oz. cansmandarin oranges, drained (reserve syrup)
3 1/2cupssugar
1pintheavy whipping cream
1/4tspvanilla

Dissolve the gelatin in the cold water. Gradually stir in coconut cream. Set aside.

Drain two cans of mandarin oranges and reserve the syrup. Add water to the reserved syrup to make 3 cups. Combine the syrup with 3 cups of the sugar in a medium-large saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for five minutes. Add to the gelatin/coconut mixture and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Let cool to lukewarm (105ºF is about right).

If you have a KitchenAid, this next part will be a snap. Otherwise, just go out and buy whipped cream from the store. Take your metal KitchenAid bowl and put it outside (or in the freezer) until it is very cold. Add the heavy cream to the bowl. Using the whisk beater, beat the cream on speed 4 while gradually adding the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and the vanilla. Increase the speed gradually to 8, stopping every few seconds to check to see if peaks are forming properly. Once a stiff peak forms, you have whipped cream. Do not overwhip the cream! (It will become butter.)

If you are just making a pan of this stuff, fold the whipped cream into the lukewarm gelatin. Press mandarin orange slices into the dish - they will sink through the whipped cream and rest on the jello, and sort of glow. Chill for 4 hours and serve.

If you want to be really facy about this, though (and i recommend it!), fold half the whipped cream into the gelatin and mix thoroughly. Then spoon the rest of the whipped cream into individual ramikins and pour the gelatin over it, then garnish each with 4 - 5 orange slices.

This should make about 12 servings.