Saturday, March 27, 2010

March 2010 Daring Baker's Challenge: Orange Tian

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

I was initially skeptical of the dessert; it seemed so stiff and old-fashioned - I think the ring molds and "Alain Ducasse" threw me off. I was blown away when I tasted it, it was clearly one of the best desserts I've ever made!

According to wikipedia, a tian is both the name of a French braised vegetable stew and the tall conical clay pot it was cooked in. Nowadays, it just refers a layered dish, both savory or sweet. The orange tian in this recipe has several contrasting layers:

(in bottom to top order)
1. Crumbly pâte sableé (butter cookie) base
2. Smear of tart homemade marmalade
3. Orange whipped cream
4. Orange segments marinated overnight in caramel sauce
5. Orange caramel sauce

Whew. That's a lot of layers. Yes, this is a fussy dessert, but it's worth the effort (especially if you have someone to impress). I fed it to my boyfriend while he was operating a drill press, very romantic non?


In a dessert ring (I used round cookie cutters), place a layer of orange segments on the bottom. Try to fit them as snugly as possible.

Spoon the whipped cream on top until the ring is almost filled.

Spread marmalade on the cookie base, then place the cookie into the ring, marmalade side down. I forgot that cookies will expand slightly in the oven - jamming cookies into the ring = broken cookies. One daring baker used a microplane to file down her cookies so they'd fit into the ring, she's a better engineer than me.

Put the whole thing in the freezer for about 10 minutes to firm up, then very carefully invert onto a plate. It's quite gorgeous.

Run a thin knife blade around the inside edges of the ring to unmold.

Spoon caramel sauce on top and serve. I should probably invest in a squeeze bottle. In terms of taste, though, this was incredible. The caramel sauce perfectly complemented the juice orange segments, creamy mousse, and buttery cookie base.

If you want, you can even put it in the freezer and call it a semifreddo. Unfortunately the orange segments loose their juiciness, but it's sure more photogenic : )

* All the recipes can be found here

I. Cookie Base

Roll out your pâte sableé dough to 1/4 inch thick, then cut out circles. Bake until golden brown. Leftover dough makes great mini-cheesecake bases.

II. Orange Marmalade

A food processor is great here. You basically want to slice the oranges very thin, then blanch them in hot water a few times.

Chop the cooked orange slices, then cook it with sugar and pectin until thick.

I didn't really like the chunky texture, so I pureed the whole thing until it was smooth.

III. Stabilized Whipped Cream

Whipped cream is flavored with the orange marmalade from part II and stabilized with gelatin. I added a slug of Grand Marnier for good measure.

IV. Orange Segments

Segmenting oranges is the single most slavish thing I've ever done. You have to first peel the orange, taking care to trim off all the pith, then carefully cut out each individual segment. I feel for the poor guy in the resort hotel who has to do this all day long. Here's a youtube video about segmenting oranges.

After you have your bowl full of hard-earned orange segments, pour half the orange caramel sauce from part V onto the segments and marinade overnight. You'll be rewarded with beautiful juicy syrupy orange segments. It is actually worth the effort.

 V. Orange Caramel Sauce

Heat sugar in a pan to make caramel, then stir in orange juice. Done. 


  1. Beautiful tian. Lovely pictures, great job!

  2. Your tians look wonderful! Nice job!

  3. lovely pictures, your tians look amaizing!