orange cream phyllo cups • making a small difference

What do you do when you have a lot of something left over? A lot of lemon curd? A lot of chocolate mousse? A lot of ganache? In my case…a lot of candied citrus peel? A lot of orange Italian meringue buttercream…?

Well, clearly we shouldn’t throw food or leftovers away, since world hunger and global starvation is a major problem that should not be overlooked. But I’ll get back to that later.

So yes….throwing food away should never be an option. But I’m not here to tell you what to do. Who am I to do that, right? Right.

But if you’re like me and find that you are left with plenty of Italian meringue buttercream after testing certain recipes, I invite you to reinvent the wheel if you don’t do so already and challenge yourself to find new recipes that incorporate leftovers of buttercreams, curds, pie crusts, mousse, cookie dough, etc. It can become a fun and challenging game and you will feel instant rewards for not letting such food rot away in an eternity of disregard in the freezer or…in the garbage.

When I made chocolate orange mini pastries a few days ago I had some orange buttercream and candied citrus peel left over. It’s always easier to work with a larger recipe when making italian meringue buttercream, so I tend to always have some of that laying around in the freezer. I decided to use the left over orange buttercream and candied orange peel and create these cute orange cream phyllo cups. They are quite creamy, quite citrusy, quite smooth, and quite delicious. As you can probably tell, I would much rather eat these than to hold my heart in my hand while tossing spoiled leftovers into the trash.

Going back to world hunger…do you know what’s another great way to help fight it? Yes, you got it! Volunteer at your local community kitchen and use food as a tool to strengthen your community and fight hunger. If you live in the DC metro area and would like to get involved, here are two great places where you can start making a difference. If you don’t live in the DC metro area, I am sure there are local programs to help fight hunger in your community. All you have to do is ask and do the research!

1. DC Central Kitchen—”Through job training, meal distribution, and local farm partnerships, we’re building long-term solutions to the interconnected problems of poverty, hunger, and homelessness.”

2. Miriam’s Kitchen—”Ending chronic homelessness in DC is possible. Permanent supportive housing is the solution. Food is an important part of our work.”

And always remember to share food with others! I swear that nothing can compare to that simple act of giving and to the satisfaction you get when you know that a dish or dessert you made may be nourishing a friend, a relative, a student, someone in need, etc.

But again, I’m not here to tell you what to do!

**Yields 48 phyllo cups. Store at room temperature for one day. Depending on the size of your mini-muffin pans, you may have to bake 2-3 separate rounds of phyllo cups to end up with a total number of 48 phyllo cups**

Ingredients for Orange Italian Meringue Buttercream: 

8 oz sugar

2 oz water

1 T honey

3 oz strained egg whites

10 oz butter, cubed

3.5 tsp orange juice (I didn’t get my hands on orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier, but I believe that replacing orange juice for Grand Marnier would make a great contribution. I suggest adding it a little bit at a time and tasting the flavor until you reach the desired orange flavor).

1.5 T orange zest

Procedure/Recipe for Orange Italian Meringue Buttercream: (Please read all steps first before proceeding in order for the technique to be completely clear from start to finish).

1. Combine water and sugar in a pot. Mix water and sugar with fingers to make sugar is lump-free.

2. Heat water and sugar to 238 F (soft ball stage) and add corn syrup to water/sugar mixture as soon it looses yellow color and it becomes clear. Be sure to watch it closely and attentively.

3. Test the temperature of the sugar by numbing finger in ice-cold water, quickly dipping finger in hot water/sugar mixture, and re-dipping finger right back into cold water. Form the cooled sugar into a ball with your hands. Drop ball onto a flat surface. Sugar is ready when it makes a sound when it reaches the surface and when it doesn’t sink in while resting.If you would rather avoid using this procedure, you can also use a candied thermometer and test the sugar until it reaches 238 F.

4. Begin to whisk egg whites at high speed when sugar has reached or is close to reaching 238 F. Decrease speed to medium after about five seconds, just after egg whites have been broken up.

5. Begin to slowly add the hot sugar to egg whites while egg whites continue to whip, meringue is soft, and yellow color is gone. Be sure to pour sugar from the side of the mixing bowl so that it doesn’t go flying everywhere. Whip meringue/238 F sugar until the bottom of the mixing bowl has cooled off and feels lukewarm to the touch.

6. Add pieces of butter continuously to mixture when egg whites are fluffy and stiff peaks are close to being formed. Stop whipping when buttercream looks fluffy and stiff peaks form.

Store in freezer for 6-8 months. Recondition buttercream before use by warming it up over a double boiler and whipping it until fluffy.

Ingredients for Candied Citrus Peel:

1 orange

2 oz sugar

2 oz water

Recipe/Procedure for Candied Citrus Peel:

1. Scrub oranges in hot water and pat them dry.

2. Cut off pieces of orange peel and cut orange peel into thin strips. Be sure to exclude as much of the white part as possible to decrease extra bitterness.

3. Throw orange peel strips into a pot of boiling water and cook for about 30 seconds. Strain citrus peel.

4. Fill same pot with new water and bring it to a boil. Throw citrus peel into pot and cook for about 30 seconds and strain. Repeat blanching process once more.

5. Meanwhile, combine sugar and water into a pot and cook over medium heat until all the sugar has completely dissolved to create a simple syrup.

6. Bring simple syrup to a boil and cook blanched orange peel in a gentle simmer in the simple syrup until peel is translucent and tender. You must taste the peel to know if it’s fully cooked. Strain citrus peel.

7. Roll citrus peel in granulated sugar.

Ingredients for Orange Cream Phyllo Cups:
orange italian meringue buttercream
candied orange peel
12 sheets of phyllo dough
melted butter
Recipe/Procedure for Orange Cream Phyllo Cups:
1. On a dry work surface place 1 sheet of phyllo. Lightly brush melted butter over the entire sheet of phyllo. Place a second sheet of phyllo over the first sheet and brush with melted butter. Continue until 6 sheets of phyllo stacked on top of each other.
2. Make 2″ marks vertically and horizontally along the edges of the rectangle of phyllo. Cut the stacked phyllo rectangle into equal pieces by cutting lengthwise and then widthwise. At this point you should have 24 cut squares of phyllo dough. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to create 24 additional squares and end up with a total of 48 phyllo dough squares.
3. Gently press each cut square of phyllo into mini-muffin tin cups.
4. Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes until the edges of the phyllo are golden. Allow phyllo cups to cool off completely.
5. Meanwhile recondition orange italian meringue buttercream by warming it up over a double-boiler and whipping it until light and fluffy. Fill a pastry bag that has a #5 star tip.
6. Pipe orange meringue buttercream into phyllo cups. Finish by placing a piece of candied citrus peel on the tip of the buttercream.

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