January 26, 2012

An Accidental Discovery: Tangerine Dream Rolls

I had never imagined, when first I set out to write about food, that I would ever say the words "it all started with a box of prepackaged Pillsbury mix," but here we are.

Who knew?
To be honest, I don't even know where the stuff came from.  I was cleaning out the cramped cupboard that houses my "baking only" ingredients and found this guy crammed in the back with some boxed cake mixes, from some long ago time when I must have not really given a damn.  The first impulse was to chuck it.  I've been enjoying baking more and more, and cooking alongside Poppin' Fresh seemed like a setback. However, I'm cheap and it's wasteful.  I knew from the start that I didn't want to make the hot rolls that were the main focus of the product.  The "great pizza crust" touted in the lower left corner was tempting, but once again I'd already locked in my menu for the week, and I wanted the dough boy gone.  (I needed room for cake flour, so that I could eventually make these.)  As anyone who even periodically reads this blogs knows, one area where I do have room to tamper is with dessert.  The two years I spent working at a cinnamon roll factory  had ruined me off of the sticky treats for most of my adult life, but with one caveat.  Orange rolls.  Perhaps it was because they only made them sporadically, perhaps they were just better, but while the cinnamon rolls I bagged each day grew to disgust me, orange rolls were a highlight of my day whenever the test pan ended up in the break room. 

Now, I have no idea what goes into a traditional orange roll.  But I do know how to make chocolate-mandarin won tons (a personal invention that I'm sure we'll get around to eventually,) and at the center of that dish is a mandarin orange reduction.  Using similar principals,  I set out to make a filling with the ingredients on hand. 

Those ingredients were:

7 "cutie" tangerines
1/4 cup + 2 T softened butter, divided
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup brown sugar

Before I began the filling, I made the dough following the instructions on the package.  It runs a bit contrary to my nature, but I didn't tamper with it a bit.  If you are ambitious (or just don't have the product on hand) you can make your own dough-this package makes sixteen rolls, and my half of the recipe makes enough filling to cover that amount plus a little bit extra. 

Once the dough was on its final rise, I heated a small saucepan on medium heat and melted the two tablespoons of butter.  While it was starting to bubble, I peeled and removed the stray pith from six of the tangerines, tore them into segments, and tossed them into the butter along with the cranberries.  The cranberries aren't entirely necessary here-I had them leftover from the oatmeal cookies I made a couple of weeks ago, and was just trying to limit food waste-but they worked quite well and made these turn out with a unique taste that was reminiscent of orange rolls past, but still completely new.  If you don't want to go to the hassle or it's not the right season, just add a couple more tangerines.  Once the fruit was in I added the brown sugar and squeezed the last cutie over the top so that its juice would help the sugar dissolve.  This mixture needs to cook down for about ten minutes (stirring occasionally,) or until the chunks of fruit have broken down, released their juices, and had the opportunity to reduce in them.

Once the mixture looked nice and syrupy it got tossed into the food processor.  When I would make my mandarin dessert, the canned orange segments dissolved so thoroughly that I never needed to bother, but fresh fruit holds up better, and I didn't want huge bits of tangerine in my rolls.  It didn't take more than a few pulses to make it smooth.

An even smear should do it.
With the tangerine mixture at the ready, I returned to the instructions and rolled the dough out flat, covering it with the 1/4 cup of butter, and then topping that with the filling as shown above.  Couldn't have been easier.  I rolled it into a "snake," sliced it into sixteen about even slices, and put them on a greased pan.  Twenty minutes later, they came out of my oven looking fluffy and delicious.  All that was left was a glaze.  While the orange rolls of my youth had a cream cheese frosting, I just used the powdered sugar based topping from the side of the box, with one slight change.  Instead of using milk to turn the sweetener into a syrup, I kept with the theme and juiced one last tangerine.  Half an hour after I had contemplated tossing my Pillsbury roll mix into the trash I had a great dessert that had Wife (my greatest critic) insisting that, box or not,I write about these rolls.

1 comment:

  1. You need a better camera. The rolls sound tasty, but the pictures aren't that attractive.