What’s Up, Hungry People!
Have you ever wanted to be on Chopped and hear Ted Allen say, “Chefs, you may open your baskets?” Yeah, me too! That’s why this week we went all-in with a Chopped-style challenge right in my own kitchen! With mystery ingredients that make you scratch your head, it was the perfect final round to test my culinary skills.
Setting the Stage: The Ingredients
This week, I tasked Nick—my ever-willing guinea pig and sole judge—to go on a mystery shopping spree for me. Little did I know he’d come back with a basket full of goodies like canned pizza dough, mandarin oranges, marshmallows, and cashews! Along with these mystery gems, I had the freedom to raid my basic pantry for the added essentials.
Here’s What You Need
- Sheet Dough: The base for your rolls; it gives you the fluffy, tender bread part of your sweet and savory pinwheels.
- Marshmallows: Melted down for a creamy topping; they bring a sweet, gooey element to contrast the crunchy cashews and poppy seeds.
- Mandarin Oranges + Juice: Caramelized with sugar for the fruity filling; they add a burst of citrus flavor and natural sweetness.
- Chopped Cashews: Added for crunch and nutty flavor; they’re sprinkled on the dough and also used as a garnish.
- Brown Sugar: Combined with mandarin oranges for the caramelized filling; it enhances the natural sweetness of the fruit.
- Poppy Seeds: Sprinkled on the dough for added texture and a bit of a nutty, earthy flavor.
- Corn Syrup: Used to smooth out the melted marshmallows; it makes your topping extra creamy.
- Lemon Juice & Zest: Mixed into the marshmallow cream for brightness and a hint of tanginess; they make the sweet topping more balanced.
First up, I threw the mandarin oranges into a pot with a generous dash of brown sugar. I had my eye on creating a caramelized-orange filling for the rolls. Sadly, my plan hit a snag; there was too much liquid in the pot. Plan B: I strained the oranges and mashed them down to create a straightforward yet flavorful orange jelly.
Adding Some Crunch: Cashews and Poppy Seeds
I then spread out some cashews and a sprinkle of poppy seeds across the pizza dough, aiming for a blend of flavors and a crunchy texture. And let’s keep it real: I kept some of the cashews for a last-minute garnish. Will the judges knock points off for that? Who knows, but they better not; we all know how particular they can be about using basket ingredients for garnish!
Roll It Up!
Once the pizza dough was prepped, I smeared my homemade orange jelly all over it. I rolled it up into a nice, tight log and sliced it into eight evenly-sized pinwheels. Into the oven they went, set at an undisclosed temperature because I was too caught up in the excitement!
Creamy Marshmallow Topping
While my rolls were baking, I melted the marshmallows in a double boiler, mixing in a bit of corn starch to give it a creamier consistency. To brighten up the flavor, a whisk of lemon rind and juice did just the trick.
The Final Touches
With the clock ticking down, I slathered the marshmallow cream onto my freshly baked orange rolls and crowned them with the remaining cashews. In my imagination, Ted Allen shouts, “Time’s up, utensils down!”
Tips to Master Your Orange Poppyseed Rolls
- Consistency of Orange Filling: If you find your orange filling is too watery, don’t panic! Just strain the excess liquid and consider reducing it on the stove to make a syrup that you can drizzle over the rolls later.
- Temperature for Baking: The recipe calls for 375°F, but ovens can vary. To ensure your rolls are baked to perfection, you might want to do a toothpick test. Insert it into a roll; if it comes out clean, they’re done.
- Double Boiler Substitute: If you don’t have a double boiler, just take a heatproof bowl and place it over a pot of simmering water. This will allow you to melt the marshmallows without them sticking or burning.
- Customizing with Spices: While the recipe doesn’t call for it, feel free to add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg to the orange filling for a twist. Just make sure to mix it in well so the spice is evenly distributed.
- Storage: These rolls are best enjoyed fresh, but if you have leftovers, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. To reheat, just pop them in the oven at 350°F for about 10 minutes.
Nick, my in-house judge, absolutely loved it. According to him, the marshmallow cream was a hit, making the rolls taste similar to a creamsicle. Overall, a roaring success.
Nick and I absolutely loved how the orange poppyseed rolls turned out, and I can tell you, there’s no better feeling than hearing “delicious” from your only but oh-so-important judge! The creaminess of the marshmallow topping paired with the tangy, sweet citrus filling really does evoke the classic creamsicle vibe. A little crunch from the cashews and poppy seeds, and we’re talking about a dessert you’ll want to make again and again! Ready to try this Chopped at Home challenge in your own kitchen? Let’s Cook!
Orange Poppyseed Rolls | Chopped at Home Challenge
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Strain the mandarin oranges, reserving about 1/4 cup of the juice. Combine the oranges and brown sugar in a skillet over high heat. Simmer until the juices have evaporated and the oranges start to caramelize. Drain any excess liquid and mash the oranges.
- Open the can of sheet dough and unroll it. Evenly spread half of the chopped cashews and the poppy seeds across the dough. Use a spoon to distribute the mashed orange mixture over the dough.
- Roll the dough into a log and slice it into eight evenly sized pinwheels. Place each roll in a greased 9×9 baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops of the rolls are golden brown and fully cooked.
- While the rolls are baking, use a double boiler to melt the marshmallows. Add the corn syrup, lemon juice, and lemon zest to the double boiler and stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Remove the rolls from the oven and allow them to cool for a bit. Spread the marshmallow cream over the tops of the rolls. Serve warm and enjoy!