Saturday, February 13, 2016

HFF 2.4: Sweets for the Sweet

The Challenge: Sweets for the Sweet

The Recipe: Orange and Orange-Flower Cream Bonbons, page 96 of The Art of Confectionery

Date/Region: 1865, American (Boston)

How Did You Make It: This is from the same book as last session's Chocolate and Vanilla Bonbons. I hoped that the previous experience will lead to better-looking candies this time around.  If nothing else, real icing bag made it a little easier to form the centers.

The orange sugar instructions are given on page 44:
"Orange Sugar for Flavoring. Rub the rind of a dozen oranges on lumps of sugar, scrape this off, dry it in paper on a plate in the screen, and put it away in a stoppered bottle for use."
I can't help but feel that it would useful to know how much sugar should be rubbed over the dozen oranges, so that I can scale it down appropriately.  So, instead I just took the ounce of sugar I needed, and rubbed it over the peel of one orange, until the sugar got a strong orange flavor.  Fun fact: leaving the peel in sugar will apparently draw additional moisture out of it, making the sugar syrupy. I set it aside to dry out, which it did.
Orange sugar.

For the centers, I started by dissolving 2 oz of gum arabic in 1/2 cup hot water; to get it all dissolved, I rigged up a sort of double boiler on the stove.  Once the gum was in solution, I strained it through a piece of muslin [this step is explained in the first bon bon recipe, which goes into more detail than the others].  The gum solution was mixed with the ounce of orange-flower water, and then about 11 cups of powdered sugar are added--even though this is 1.5x the total amount of sugar called for (2 lb ~ 7 cups), it just wasn't getting thick.  In fact, it probably could have used some more, but the bowl was at capacity.  It ended up with a sticky, still-somewhat-runny mixture with the delicate taste of orange flower.
Dissolving gum arabic on a stove top.

I used an icing bag with 1/2" plain tip (the 1/8" was way too small, and I didn't have the recommended 1/4" size) to make the centers, and dried them in a warm oven about 10 minutes. They spread more than I would have liked (again). I left them to cool overnight, hoping that this time they'd get hard enough not to come apart when the next layer is added.
Candy centers.
I made up the royal icing by beating together 2 egg whites, 4 cups powdered sugar, and the 1 oz of orange sugar.  The orange flavor mostly got lost, so I added the juice of half an orange (and another 1/2 cup powdered sugar to make up the consistency). Iced the centers, drying the candies in a warm oven for 10 minutes after each side.
Orange and orange flower water bonbons from an 1865 recipe.

Time to Prepare: About three hours, plus waiting between steps.

Total Cost: Everything was on hand (even the gum arabic, which was left-over from last time).

How Successful Was It: Fairly.  They still aren't exactly pretty.  Even with the added orange juice the orange flavor didn't really come through--though the orange flower water did nicely.

How Accurate Was It: Pretty good.  Obvious modern adaptation include using the mixer/electric oven.  The deviation with the orange juice in the icing was noted.  As usual, there were ambiguities in the recipe, which are hard to account for.

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