Blue Chair Jam’s Seville Orange Marmalade with Muscovado

As we sit here buried under two feet of snow (and counting), I think it’s just the right time to talk about oranges.  (After all, how can my thoughts help but escape to Florida right now?)

The thing is I made this marmalade a few months ago, in fact.  I found out that one of my new favorite online stores, the Florida Orange Shop, sells Seville Oranges which are well-known but hard to find (like so many other fruits I struggle to get my hands on).  When I ended up ordering the smallest package, 3/16 a bushel, however, I had more than I knew what to do with.

Seville Blood Orange Marmalade with Muscovado (4 of 4)

With such precious raw materials, I had to turn to the The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook.  If you’ve ever seen this book, you can’t help but be drawn in by the saturated colors of a seemingly magical world of fruit.  But the recipes too are captivating–elegant, sophisticated, every step carefully thought out to bring out the best possible results.  I was recently lucky enough to take a class with the author and founder, Rachel Saunders, and even with all the jam I’ve made I learned so much–but it only whet my appetite (so to speak!) and I didn’t hesitate to sign up for her upcoming marmalade class  in March.  It goes without saying that I can hardly wait.

The marmalades generally take 3 days or so to make–which before you balk actually makes the process all the better.  You can do all the work of chopping and seeding and slicing and squeezing one day and then put it aside.  The second day you boil and set aside again, and only on the third day do you actually make the preserves.  This makes it less of a Herculean undertaking and more of a manageable process that can even be done on a weeknight.

It’s not about convenience though, but about making a beautiful product.  Unlike other marmalades I’ve made, the jelly is clear and translucent (rather than opaque and gelatinous) and the suspended pieces of fruit are like candied jewels.  About half the fruit is quartered and used for its juice alone and discarded, while only the other half actually makes its way into the preserve.  I was initially aghast at throwing away so many peels unused (I mean, I did special order these!) but when I ended up with such beautiful results and 13 jars, I saw no reason to complain.

Seville Blood Orange Marmalade with Muscovado (1 of 4)

As for the flavor:  there’s no exaggeration in the fact that these are called bitter oranges.  If you’ve never had marmalade before it’s a bit shocking (and even if you have).  But it grows on you–with vanilla and muscovado sugar, its flavor is as elegant and complex as its rich burgundy hue.

I apologize for not providing the recipe here, but I can at least tell you where to get Seville oranges–which should be in season through the remainder of the month.

Note that the methodology used in the The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook for processing jars is not the USDA specified method.  I was nervous about this so I processed the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Seville Blood Orange Marmalade with Muscovado (2 of 4)

I’ll be slathering this on warm toast as I watch the growing mountains of white snow out the window.  Stay warm!

Blueberry Muscovado Coffee Cake

So, the title I’ve bestowed upon this cake is a bit of a mouthful.  (I’m also not going to try to turn that into a food pun, just in case you were worried.  You can keep reading without trepidation).

Mark, one of my good friends from law school, his wife Anna, and sons were up from New York over Labor Day weekend and we planned for them to come over that Monday morning.  We went to law school together and somehow kept ending up in all the same classes–from first year criminal law and civil procedure, to both landing summer internships in Sarajevo (yes, really!) to bankruptcy 3L year (the last few weeks of which saw Mark dashing out more than once at a text from Anna, who was due to go into labor with their first any day).   Nowadays, we even work at the same law firm, albeit in different offices.

Sometimes you just keep running into the same people, and in cases like this, it’s a good thing.

But we hadn’t seen each others’ respective broods for some time, if we’ve met the little ones at all.  Now that firstborn who attended our wedding as a crawler is in second grade, and Mark and Anna’s second boy is 2 1/2, just between my preschooler and toddler.

Of course, this immediately sent me planning out the morning table.  Brunch is one of my favorites–plenty of excuses to bake!  We fried up our CSA bacon (which I made in our new griddle, which turned out to be way to shallow for fatty heritage breed pork), brewed up coffee (four young boys between us all–need I say more?) and I made this:  I had a few things in mind when I went thinking about what to make.  I wanted a recipe using yogurt:  I always have plenty of glass jars in the fridge gleaming white with my most recent homemade batch, and yogurt results in a tender crumb.  I wanted something a bit unique, and so I got on my toes and pulled the muscovado sugar off the top shelf– that ultra dark, ultra flavorful, ultra special cousin of ordinary brown sugar — you may remember seeing it here on Valentine’s day.  And blueberries, because, well, aren’t blueberries just sort of required for breakfast baking?

One of the best things in the world is friends who, no matter how long its been, you can pick up with wherever you left off (especially as the intervening birthdays pile up).   Though hopefully, it won’t be too long until that next time we get together.

Brown Sugar Blueberry Yogurt Coffee Cake (recipe adapted from the Washington Post and 101 Cookbooks)

Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon muscovado brown sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 2 large egg whites (I think you could also simply use two eggs).
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries (I used frozen blueberries)

Crumb topping

  • 3/4 c whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c muscovado or dark brown sugar
  • scant 1/2 t salt
  • 1/3 c unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a springform pan.

For the crumble, stir together the flour, sugar, oats, and salt.  Stir in the melted butter.  Put in the refrigerator.

For the cake, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl, whisking to mix well.

In a separate medium bowl, stir together the yogurt, canola oil, the brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract.

Stir the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients, only until just combined (lumps are OK).  With a spatula, gently fold in the blueberries.  Pour into the prepared springform pan and sprinkle the crumble on top to cover.

Because I used frozen blueberries (not defrosted and straight from the freezer!) my cake took about 50 minutes to bake, but if using fresh blueberries bank on 25-35 minutes.   Either way, a tester should come out clean when done, and the cake should be well risen (see the before and after shots below).  If the crumble topping starts to brown too quickly, cover with aluminum foil until the cake is done.

Serve warm, tastes best when accompanied by conversation with good friends.

Valentine’s Day Approved Muscovado Chocolate Cake

I’m not going to go into all the reasons chocolate is de rigeur on Valentine’s day.  Chocolate = Love.  And even though there are those who don’t like Valentine’s day, who doesn’t love chocolate? (Though curiously, I have a friend, from Belgium no less, that can’t stand the stuff.  I still puzzle over this). 

So–chocolate is a given.  The question is, how are you going to have it?  The tried and true methods–brownies, cookies, candies–are never going to disappoint, but sometimes a slight variation is in order.  Maybe an exotic ingredient will do the trick?

Enter muscovado.  There’s light brown sugar, there’s dark brown sugar, and there is muscovado sugar.   The molasses flavor that makes brown sugar so delicious is surprisingly intense in muscovado.  It’s probably fair to say it’s like brown sugar in 3D.

My husband’s birthday was this Friday, and he was just coming off of a busy period at work.  And he loves chocolate.  Marija at Palachinka recently made muscovado brownies, and I knew before I even finished reading her post that I needed to make this.

This cake is leavened with whipped egg whites, which is probably unusual stateside where we rely on baking powder to raise our cakes. (I find this to be more of a cake than a brownie, precisely due to the fact that it is leavened.  Isn’t the brownie a happy accident in which someone forgot to add the baking powder?)  I sometimes find that the beaten egg white method of lifting a cake results in a dry product, but here, probably thanks to the moisture of the muscovado (and let’s face it, a lot of butter) it was tender and moist.  The muscovado and dark coffee are like the harmony filling out the chocolate melody–chocolate still takes center stage, but there’s an extra layer of richness and complexity to it.

A few notes, before the recipe:  If you can’t find muscovado you can find it online or you can simply substitute dark brown sugar–it still adds something that plain white sugar does not.  Don’t skip the icing–it’s incredibly easy.  And if you refrigerate this cake, it goes from being light in texture to incredibly fudgy and more brownie-like; my husband likened it to the filling of a chocolate ganache tart. 

Enjoy!

Muscovado Chocolate Cake

Cake

7 oz dark chocolate
1 3/4 sticks butter
2 T strong black coffee
3/4c dark muscovado sugar
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1/3c flour
1/4 tsp salt

Melt dark chocolate, butter and coffee in a double boiler (or carefully microwave on medium power, pausing every thirty seconds to stir). When melted, mix in half the muscovado.

Beat egg yolks with the remaining muscovado until pale. Stir in melted chocolate mix. Sift over flour and salt and fold in.

Beat the egg whites stiff and carefully fold in. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper and pour the batter in. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Icing

1/4c muscovado
1 T heavy cream
2 oz dark chocolate
4T butter

Melt muscovado and heavy cream in a double boiler (or microwave as above).  Add chocolate and butter and stir until it’s melted and smooth. Let cool a bit and pour over the baked cake.