This morning, my fork did all the talking, and I let it. Let’s get to the meat before I lose your attention.
The four main components here may sound frivolous, but get along like four great friends. Anyone else here like Terry’s chocolate oranges (insert happy girl with hands over her head emoji here)? If you do, I kid you not, these will satisfy you any time of day, and this batch makes quite a lot, so the satisfaction isn’t short-lived. Here we have a sweet and sticky baked citrus batter topped with a rich chocolate glaze (all delectable frozen goo and sludge), on a double butter crust, topped with mascarpone (no, I didn’t make this, ha), and honeycomb.
I want to call them tiger bars because that’s exactly what they ended up looking like, with the stripes and all. A most desirable marriage of chocolate and orange. As you can tell from the picture below, I was a bit too excited to cut everything up and slather stuff on, hence the slipshod effect. By the way, this double butter crust is bloody good. But bad. And messy. Either way it’s all good.
Sweet on sweet on sweet, right? Well, not totally. The flavours here all meld into one another in a manner more sophisticated than what I expected, but I do think the mascarpone is necessary to soften excess cloy. This was my first time making honeycomb, and this batch turned out desirably sweet, light and crisp, like the chewier end bits of the inside of a Crunchie bar. Hopefully with time, I will master the art of thicker, ‘holier’ honeycomb. Slightly less deep in colour, less chew, more whimsical and airy-fairy. The golden shards offer a brighter mien to the whole dessert get-up. A sort of ‘ooh, what was that? YES’ kind of crunch. With the layers of texture and flavour established, the final addition of mascarpone cheese on top ties all the components together, like the ribbon on a present. A blander, but necessary note, a complementary creaminess.
Orange Chocolate Bars with Mascarpone and Honeycomb (makes 12 bars)
For the crust:
160g unsalted butter, cold and cut into small half-inch cubes
210g all-purpose flour (around 1 1/3 cups)
50g icing sugar, sifted (slightly less than a half cup)
For the orange filling:
zest and juice of 1.5 large oranges (120ml or half a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice)
juice of half a small lemon
230g (1 cup) white sugar
large pinch salt
50g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
For the chocolate glaze:
1 tbsp water
15g unsalted butter
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tbsp milk
50g (or more, this is according to taste) of sifted icing sugar
For the honeycomb (adapted from BBC good food’s traditional take):
180g white caster sugar
5 tbsp golden syrup
2 tsp baking soda
Preheat your oven to 177C (350F). In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, pinch of salt and icing sugar. Rub the cold, cubed butter into this mix until you get coarse crumbs, and they are able to stick together in clumps when you squeeze the mix in your palm. Press this mixture into the bottom of a greased 9×13-inch pan, and then place into the preheated oven and bake for 11-13 minutes (I took mine out at 12).
Next, make the filling, which is the easiest bit!! In a large bowl, whisk together the juice of the oranges and one lemon, zest of the oranges, sugar and eggs. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and pinch of salt. Add this flour mix to the wet mix and mix well to combine. You will probably find little clumps of flour post-mixing, but they will go after whisking for a while. You should have a smooth, slightly viscous, wet mass of orange. Once the crust is done baking, remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the cooling tray. Pour the orange filling batter into the pan, then carefully (because the batter is predominantly liquid) place the pan back into the oven. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until you can see the top go a medium brown in colour. I took out my pan at 19 minutes, when there was a visible dark brown rim around the edges, and the surface was mottled with bits of brown. When you take out the pan, the inside will still be mostly wet, or moist at most. Leave to cool for 15 minutes, before placing in the fridge to allow it to fully set.
Make the chocolate glaze. Again, easy peasy stuff. In a medium microwave-safe bowl (I always use my handy Chinese porcelain dinner bowls, so convenient), add the butter (it can still be cold from the fridge), water and cocoa powder. Microwave this on high until you get a smooth chocolate mix, at least 30 seconds or so. At this point, at a tablespoon of milk, and then add 50g of sifted icing sugar. You might add more if you want a slightly sweeter chocolate glaze; 50g yields a deeper overall chocolate flavour. Drizzle this chocolate glaze all over the orange bars.
Time for the honeycomb. The recipe I used here is classically British, incorporating the use of golden syrup instead of light corn syrup. You can find a myriad different honeycomb recipes online, and though this is a nice, safe one to start with, don’t be afraid to try others out. I’m eyeing Joy the Baker’s one next! Grease a 9×9-inch baking pan and set aside near your stove and saucepan. In a medium saucepan, add the sugar and golden syrup. Melt everything together on a low heat, mixing briefly with a wooden spoon in the beginning, and wait until the sugar crystals have visibly dissolved. Don’t touch or stir it at this point. Try not to let the mixture boil because this will change the structure of the crystals before you have a chance to aerate everything with the baking soda. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat just a little and let simmer for 2-4 minutes, or until you can see that the mixture has turned slightly deeper in colour, a light amber shade. At this point, add the baking soda and quickly whisk it into the mixture. It will go thick, slightly paler and foamy (it’s beautiful), but slightly darker again once you whisk. Immediately pour the mix into the pan you greased, and then set your pan under cold running water in your sink to dissolve any caramel that might’ve stuck to the sides.
The mix will set after around an hour. Since it’s always so bloody hot here, I left mine at room temperature for half an hour, before placing in the fridge for another half hour. At this point, take out your pan and overturn it onto your counter. Hit the pan hard with your hand or a large spoon to release the honeycomb onto the counter, and this will simultaneously break it into large chunks. You may then proceed to break it up further into shards of whatever size you wish.
Assembly: Cut the orange bars into 12 with a sharp knife, cleaning the knife with a paper towel after each slice. Top with mascarpone and homemade honeycomb, and send yourself to heaven.