When Life Gives You Oranges: Festive Edition ~ Giant Jaffas and Dried Orange Decor
Oranges are sweet, juicy and incredibly versatile. In my ebook I talk about citrus fruit wastage in the UK and how our consumer shopping habits have affected how many of our lemons, limes and oranges end up in the bin. I talk about how you can put to use your oranges and suggest ways to store and cook your oranges to make them last a little longer and make something a little more indulgent than just simply eating them. Oranges are fantastic all year round and citrus fruits are the perfect thing to get refreshed in the summer! But we are not here to talk about summer, we are here to talk about CHRISTMAS! Yes, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year and I will be sharing some ways with you in which you can put to great use, your oranges. Oranges can be dried; they have a beautiful fragrance and aesthetic that will aid you in creating that merry and festive feel in your home. Of course, you can juice your oranges and though fresh orange juice is really something you just can't beat, there is so much that you could do with its juice so hold onto it! The peel, you can zest it and why not make some cookies with it? It is indeed cookie season so check out my chocolate orange Monster Cookies for the ultimate cookie. Now, the easy thing to do here is just to peel your orange and eat it. But where is the fun in that? C'mon, lets do something creative:
- Giant Jaffa Cakes
- Mulled Wine
- Dried Orange Wrapping Decoration
- Dried Orange Garland
Jaffa cakes are everywhere. Everyone loves a jaffa cake and I thought, with an abundance of oranges in my fruit bowl (though they really are best kept in the fridge) I could make make own take on jaffa cakes. So here is what I made and lets just say, I will be making them again!
- 245g oats
- 125g brown sugar
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 125g butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp chia seeds
- 3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 250ml freshly squeezed orange juice
- 6 leaves of gelatine (soaked in water)
- 100g dark chocolate
- 1 level tsp coconut oil (don't go crazy with the oil or it'll be too runny)
Start by bringing to boil your orange juice. As soon as it starts to boil, take off the heat and add in your soaked gelatine leaves. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved and then pour into silicone dome moulds. Put in the fridge to set - make sure that it is flat, perhaps on a tray if need be, to ensure that the jelly sets straight.
Make your "flapjack". Preheat your oven to 170 degrees celsius. Put the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan on a medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add in the oats and the cinnamon. Continue to mix on the hob until the butter/sugar mix has evenly coated the oats. Take off the heat. Add in the chia and pumpkin seeds and combine.
Prepare a baking tin with baking parchment and empty the contents of the pan onto the tray. Spread the oats to fit the tray and press down to compress the mixture as tightly as possible. Bake in your preheated oven for 8-10 minutes.
Take out of the oven and allow to cool slightly. Whilst still warm, using a round cookie cutter that is approximately the same size as the base of your jelly, cut out circles of the oat flapjack. Place in the fridge to cool.
Melt your dark chocolate chips, either gently in a microwavable bowl in the microwave or in a heat proof bowl over simmering water. Once melted, add the coconut oil and stir to combine. It should be glossy and shiny. Say hello to your reflection.
Gently, using a silicone spatula or a spoon, release the jelly from the silicone moulds and carefully push them out. Place your jelly domes onto the flapjack pieces, you earlier cut. Using a spoon, put a dollop of chocolate onto the jelly that is ready on the flapjack base and spread the chocolate with the back of the spoon. I tried to guide the chocolate evenly across the dome and then into any crevices between the jelly and the flapjack, using the chocolate like a glue - so that when it sets, the whole thing is secure. Do this with all of your jaffa cakes - I used a fork to score a little "flick" detail onto the top of the dome. Set aside until the chocolate has set and then eat it. All of it. Ok, maybe not all of it. You should probably share.
I don't think I would be wrong in saying that mulled wine is an absolute MUST at Christmas time. It is a liquid form of Christmas spirit. Its sweet, its warm, it gets you all merry and it just makes your soul feel good. Well it does mine, anyways. So here is a recipe for you to get you using your oranges and I mean you're winning if you can put to use what could be food wastage and make mulled wine, right?
- 550ml red wine
- 200ml fresh orange juice, and keep the skins
- mulled wine spices or 2 cinnamon sticks, 8 cloves, 1 star anise
- 3-4 tbsp honey
- optional: you could put in a splash of port. Port is yum.
Put all of your ingredients, including the orange skins that you are left with, in a pan on a medium heat. Stir gently every so often. Keep an eye on the pan, you do not want it to come to boil. Gently stir the wine and once it begins to steam and is hot to taste, strain and serve to enjoy! You can save the spices for the next round as well.
You can really do a lot with dried oranges. First of all you need to slice your oranges thinly and lay on a paper towel. Dab the oranges to remove and soak excess juices before placing in the oven to dry. Turn your oven to 120 degrees celsius and dry for 2-3 hours, turning them every hour or so. You want to get them a deep orange colour but be careful not to have etc even too hot, hot leave them in for too long otherwise the sugars with continue to burn and you will be left with burnt oranges. They actually smell quite nice but they do not have the same festive look, so try not to burn them.
WHAT CAN I DO WITH DRIED ORANGES?
It may not be your style of decor but I personally love to incorporate natural elements when decorating my house for Christmas. And the funny thing I find is, that though I'm not the only one who loves this style, we still go to the stores and buy faux pieces. I suppose, yes, they will last you until next year and you don't want to spend money on something that will only last for the one year, but what if it didn't cost you? What if you made it yourself? Go on a park or countryside walk and you will find yourself pine cones, holly leaves, berries, fir branches, pine branches. I'm not telling you to cut down the trees, I'm simply suggesting that you collect a few bits that could fill your home with that natural and festive feel for the cost of absolute nothing!
Here I suggest to you to make an orange garland, simply by threading it onto a stretch of jute string and arranging it onto a mantle piece above the fireplace or across a window. Using needle or something similar, poke a hole through the orange slice and thread the string through. On some of the orange slices you may not have to do this has there will be a hole already. Or you could use the jute string to tie a loop to make the orange slices into decorations to hang on your tree! I love this look so much and I just love the gentle scent of the dried oranges.
ORANGE WRAPPING DECORATION
Brown recycled paper is a lovely, eco friendly option for Christmas wrapping. We all know that we can use our potatoes to print the paper with paint, and actually you can do the same with oranges! But if you would like to add some finesse to your gifts this year, wrap your gift in brown paper and tie with string. Before tying the bow, slip in a sprig of holly and berry, rosemary, pine, anything that you can find along with a slice or two of dried orange. I actually slipped into my uggs and ran down the lane to cut a fresh twig of holly to put on this gift. It gives it a really natural but grand appeal to an ordinary brown box. Give someone a gift that makes them go "oh wow" (though be careful because holly is a little on the prickly side... "oh ow...").
This is where I stop but don't let this limit you. Orange juice can be turned into curd, which I have a recipe for in my ebook Spontaneously Creative, it can be dried, zested and put to use in more ways than you can imagine. I was in The White Company the other day and I noticed that the festive candles had slices of dried oranges in them! And how decorative did they look? You could find an inexpensive candle, I like mine from IKEA and they pop out really easily. You could melt this down, add in some dried orange slices, perhaps even some rosemary or pine to add a wintery forest vibe. Allow the candle to set and then enjoy a beautiful festive candle! Oranges are so diverse, especially during the festive season so have a play and see what you can do with your oranges this winter!
Thank you for reading,
Gina ~ The Noo Noo Project