Friday, January 21, 2011

Orange tiramisu

It is noticeable how you don't really give your own childhood much thought until you're faced with having a child of your own.

And the more I think about it, the more I think that the way I was brought up was quite weird. There were no bedtimes, for example. I never had to brush my teeth or do homework.

I did, of my own accord, but I didn't have to. There was no pocket money - each purchase was individually negotiated - no "curfew" later on as a teen and no question of doing chores or duties. I was never told to tidy my room. For one entire year I didn't go to school because I didn't want to.

I knew it was weird at the time, I suppose. I knew it was odd that I didn't have my own bedroom until I was about 8 - kipping down merrily until then in a huge bed with my parents - or that there was no such thing as compulsary pre-dinner handwashing or anything said about finishing everything on your plate. I distinctly remember feeling a bit sad that I didn't get a bedtime story like children on telly adverts did. But then I got to stay up late watching telly with my parents until I nodded off. Who else got to do that? Eh?

Up until quite recently I was baffled by this sentimental attachment that a lot of peoople seem to have to a bath before they go to bed. "I think I'll have a bath and then go to bed," people always say.

"Why a bath?" I always wondered. "Why not a shower?" Then I became vaguely aware of parenting routines and realised that bath-and-bed is a way that parents have of getting their children to go away and go to sleep at 7pm. Later on in life it seems to remain a treasured bedtime sleep trigger.

Some people, I'm sure, probably think that it sounds like quite an enviable childhood. And despite the chronic laziness, inability to take criticism, latent agoraphobia, filthy temper, crippling heartburn, weak veins, antisocial tendencies, stubbornness, foul language and fear of the dark, I think I escaped pretty much unharmed.

I truly believe that I invented this orange tiramisu, but that can't be possible. It's not really a tiramisu either, but I don't like the word "trifle".

Anyway, I made it because I can't get enough of oranges at the moment and so I thought this would be a nice thing to do with them. It's not really cooking, more of an assembly job, but it's a nice thing to have around about this time of year as it straddles the light and summeriness of impending spring, but also the orange booziness of winter just passing.

I made a small one, which would do about 4 people. My camera has been fixed so I went mad with the photos, but I don't think that's such a bad thing.

Esther's Orange Tiramisu (until someone tells me otherwise)

2 oranges
300ml whipping cream
5 tablespoons Cointreau
1 handful hazelnuts, chopped
4 trifle sponge fingers from Waitrose
2 vanilla pods (optional)

1 Peel your oranges with a sharp knife and cut them into small, spoonable chunks. This is my new favourite way of peeling oranges because it means you don't get skin and pith stuck under your nails and orange juice in your eye.

2 Arrange a layer of sponge fingers in whatever bowl you're using.

... it doesn't have to be neat

3 Pour over 1 tablespoonful of Cointreau per sponge finger, plus one for luck. So in this case, 5. Those in AA can substitute the same quantity of freshly squeezed orange juice.

4 Then arrange over that your orange chunks

5 Whip some cream - with the seeds of 2 vanilla pods if you want. I found adding vanilla seeds a bit of a faff and it didn't make anything taste especially vanilla-y, but you might feel different.

6 Scatter over the chopped hazelnuts...

7 ... dust with cocoa powder...

And then have yourselves a great weekend. Don't forget to wash behind your ears.

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