Monday, November 29, 2010

Death by Zester

Definitely not the way I want to go.

But this little baby (or one like it) nearly killed me.

Imagine what a horrible death that would be.

I began my zesting late Wednesday night in preparation for my second Thanksgiving dessert I was preparing, Citrus Cheesecake.

The recipe called for me to zest four large oranges, not like you would typically zest, but starting from top to bottom, creating longer curls of orange zest that would be turned into candied orange peels (which ended up being quite delicious).

First of all, zesting in itself is not that easy. And, then to make your zesting pieces long and beautiful ... even more difficult. But, I was up to the challenge.

Halfway into my first orange, I could tell I was going to hate this process. Keeping the zester steady and putting enough pressure on the zester to create the long pieces across a round surface from top to bottom was awkward and laborious. Me not likey.

But, I pushed through.

Until, the zesting part of the zester, in mid-zest, detached from the handle and flew across the room, causing my hand to bump the bowl which held the already zested orange peel. The bowl tumbled to the ground. A good amount of orange zest was lost.

But, I would not give in.

The zester would work. I tried to hold the zesting part in place, while zesting. No dice.

I had the brilliant idea of taping the zesting part to the handle with duct tape. Again, no dice.

So, I would proceed to zest the rest (I like that ... "zest the rest.") with only the 1 1/2"-head piece.

Do you know how hard it is to zest long, curly pieces like that? That takes skillz (spelled with a "z" instead of an "s" to belabor my point of how difficult this was).

I bled, people.

Slicing my wrist and scratching up my hands. I bled in two places.

I think that qualifies me as a good cook.

A great cook.

The final product (complete with maybe a few pieces of skin zest).
Citrus Cheesecake

And, happy people.

You want the recipe, don't you?

Make sure your zester is up to par.

Citrus Cheesecake
  • 4  navel oranges
  • 3/4  cup  sugar
  • 3/4  cup  water
  • 1/4  cup  sugar
  • 2  cups  graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2  cup  butter, melted
  • 1/3  cup  sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground ginger
  • 3  (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4  cups  sugar
  • 1  (8-oz.) container sour cream
  • 4  large eggs
  • 1  tablespoon  grated lemon rind
  • 2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
  • 1  teaspoon  orange extract
  • 1  large pomegranate, seeds removed
Using a zester and working from top of orange to bottom, remove peel from oranges in long strips. Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes. Add orange peel; simmer 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and section zested oranges. Seal orange sections in a zip-top plastic bag, and refrigerate until ready to garnish cheesecake.
Drain orange peel well. Toss with 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl. Place candied peel in a thin layer on wax paper to dry. Store in an airtight container up to 2 days.
Combine graham cracker crumbs and next 3 ingredients; stir well. Press mixture firmly on bottom and 2" up sides of a lightly greased 9" springform pan.
Bake at 350° for 14 to 16 minutes; let cool. Wrap bottom and sides of pan in aluminum foil and place in a large roasting pan; set aside. (Wrapping the pan is insurance against leaks in case your pan is older and not 100% airtight.)
Beat cream cheese at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add 1 1/4 cups sugar, beating just until blended. Add sour cream, beating just until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in lemon rind and extracts.
Pour batter into baked crust. Add hot water to roasting pan to a depth of 2". Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until edges are set and center is almost set. Carefully remove pan from water bath, and immediately run a knife around edge of pan. Cool completely on a wire rack; cover and chill 8 hours.
To serve cheesecake, remove sides of springform pan. Place cheesecake on a serving platter. Arrange orange sections in concentric circles on top of cake. Pile pomegranate seeds in center of cheesecake. Decorate with candied orange peel.


Jeanette said...

I am going to live vicariously through you and be excited that you conquered this dessert! Good job :} I'm thinking I will not be making this little dude....

Chel's Leaving a Legacy said...

I have one question: Did you tell your guests that you bled? ;-)

That looks like something out of a magazine. Seriously. Beautiful. I may have to try that...but first I have to get me a springform pan. Does that make me a less than great cook? haha

Katie@The Baby Factory said...

That looks divine. I'm hungry :)

DidiLyn said...

Skin zest. Yum.

The Hat Chick said...

You are a real chef....all that work and your zest was accoutrements. Looks like it came out right out of a French bakery!