Recipe and photos contributed to Hispanic Kitchen by Veronica Shine
Valencia, in Spain’s Levante region, is a testament its people, cuisine, street festivals and nightlife. In a land of the notable and renowned paella, The Fiesta of Las Fallas, massive firework displays, the Grand Prix, America’s Cup and the best micro climate on the Mediterranean. It just doesn’t take long to appreciate all this eastern part of Spain has to offer.
Although the region was colonized by the Greeks, its name actually is from Latin. It is extracted from the Latin word “valentia,” meaning “strength” or “vigorous” and most likely was bestowed during the Roman domination.
For hundreds of years though, the stronghold on Valencia was held by the Moors. This lasted until El Cid captured the city in 1094 for the Kingdom of Aragon. However, the Moors certainly left their mark in Valencia and the rest of Spain under their rule, and it still is apparent even after 900 years of their departure. Their contribution has become an integrated part of the Valencia culture.
The naranja (orange) was introduced to the area by the Moors and the thousands of groves are still going strong today. And lest not forget, the Valencia orange is known around the world.
The juices from these fruits are added as seasonings to meats and fish. And there is nothing more flavorful than a tall glass of freshly squeezed Spanish orange juice that many cafes provide. Even the fresh baked muffins have a hint of orange in them as well as other pastries.
Even a wiz in the kitchen can always use a little extra inspiration to help things along as Valentine’s Day rolls in. To cast a complete surprise for your love ones, why not sprinkle chocolate and add oranges (two of the favorite items found in the Valencia region) to a cake that will surely draw on some sweet-on-you ideas. “The Orange Chocolate Chiffon Cake – Torta de Chocolate Anaranjada” will be just the thing to create as a Valentine’s Day dessert.
Serves 8 – 10
2 cups all purpose flour
1½ cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 eggs, separated
¾ cup fresh orange juice
½ cup cooking oil
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup shaved dark chocolate
10 – 15 pieces of fresh strawberries or cherries
½ cup butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2-4 tablespoons of orange juice
½ teaspoon grated orange peel
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the first four ingredients.
2. Add egg yolks, orange juice, oil and peel; beat until smooth, about 5 minutes.
3. In another mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff but not dry. Fold into orange mixture.
4. Spoon into an un-greased 10 inch tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until cake tests done with a wooden pick.
5. Immediately invert pan to cool. When cool, remove cake from the pan.
6. For the glaze, melt butter in a small saucepan; add remaining ingredients.
7. Stir until smooth. Pour over top of cake, allowing it to drizzle down sides and smooth with a knife.
8. Add chocolate shavings on top and place fruit on the sides and top as a garnish.