These chocolate fondant cakes combine luxurious dark chocolate with slightly acidic blood oranges to create an indulgent, spectacular dessert.
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Have you been enjoying blood orange season yet? From December to March or April, depending on where you live, blood oranges are inviting you to feast on their gorgeous, jewel-like ruby flesh. Their taste is ever-so-slightly more acidic than regular oranges (especially the Moro variety), but you can of course use (and eat!) them every way you’d use regular oranges.
Nerd alert: do you know what causes the flesh of blood oranges to turn red? Antioxidants! Blood oranges contain anthocyanin, a natural pigment that develops when blood oranges ripen during warm days tempered by cool nights. Interestingly, anthocyanins can color fruits from deep red to violet. They are what give blueberries their gorgeous indigo color, eggplants their deep violet shade, and—you guessed it—blood oranges their ruby red tone.
What I’ve always found fascinating is that blood oranges are not always the same color. Sometimes blood oranges will only be streaked with red, whereas other times, they’ll be fully deep crimson red. I find it usually depends on how far you are into the blood orange season, but it can also depend on the variety you buy. I just love the surprise of slicing into a blood orange to discover its particular shade! File this under: the miracles of nature.
I had long been wanting to create a dark chocolate and blood orange dessert, not only because the color of both ingredients makes for such dramatic plates, but also because both flavors work so incredibly together. The slightly acidic flavor of blood oranges cuts through the richness of dark chocolate, while also complementing its fruity flavor. In this recipe, the dark chocolate fondant cakes are infused with blood orange zest and have a rich, barely set interior that’s close to that of a lava cake. But what makes the chocolate fondant cakes extra special is the blood orange segment syrup: the syrup adds an extra orange kick, and the segments sit on top of and around the chocolate fondant cakes like jewels.
A blood orange is an orange variety that has a beautiful, bright red flesh—which is where it gets its name. The riper blood oranges are, the darker they get: some blood oranges are so dark they also turn burgundy with a slight purple hue.
The distinct color of blood oranges is due to anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant not typically found in oranges. Blood oranges have a distinct flavor that is more acidic than your average, regular orange. The floral acidity of blood oranges reminds me of raspberries!
You’ll need eight blood oranges to make this recipe. If you can’t find blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges are a delicious substitute: their coral flesh would be just as spectacular with these chocolate fondant cakes. If blood oranges and Cara Caras are off-season, pick up Navel oranges and don’t look back. I promise you’re in for a treat, regardless of the variety you choose to use.
This recipe requires you to segment oranges to use them in the irresistible blood orange syrup. “Segmenting” blood oranges means removing all membranes from the flesh of the orange. Doing so requires more time than simply cutting the oranges after peeling them, but serving the chocolate fondant cakes makes the dessert extra special. It’s totally worth it!
Here’s how to segment blood oranges. First, peel the fruits: cut off both the top and the bottom of the blood oranges. Stand one fruit on either of the flat ends. Run a very sharp paring knife along the fruit from top to bottom, removing the skin and pith, leaving the flesh bare. Repeat for all oranges.
Then, take a peeled blood orange in one hand, then carefully run a sharp knife alongside the center membranes, leaving entirely bare pieces of fruit behind. Make sure to do this over a bowl and squeeze the remaining membrane to catch all dripping juices. You can add this juice to the syrup, but if you do, make sure to simmer the syrup for longer so it thickens properly. Alternatively, save the juice for your next smoothie or cocktail!
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