Are mandarins better than oranges?
Well mandarins are sweeter than oranges, and are easier to peel and segment which makes them a convenient snack to take to the office, and right now they are plentiful as they are in season. However, mandarins have a shorter life than oranges and also have more seeds.
Mandarins originated in China and were named after the Mandarins, the public officials of the Chinese Imperial Court who wore long, orange coloured robes. Mandarins were originally sought for their fragrance and reserved for the privileged classes.
The Chinese consider mandarins symbols of abundance and good fortune. During Chinese New Year celebrations, mandarins are frequently displayed as decorations and given as gifts to family and friends to usher in prosperity.
I used some imperial mandarins to make a mandarin, polenta and macadamia cake from a recipe I found from the Australian Women’s Weekly. It’s similar to a Middle Eastern Orange Cake that I have made before.
Mandarin, polenta and macadamia cake
(Recipe from Australian Women’s Weekly)
- 4 small mandarins (400g), unpeeled
- 2 cups (280g) macadamias
- 250g butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (220g) caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup (170g) polenta
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar
Cover whole mandarins in medium saucepan with cold water; bring to a boil. Drain then repeat process two more times. Cool mandarins to room temperature.
Preheat oven to moderately slow (170°C/150°C fan-forced). Grease deep 22cm-round cake pan; line base with baking paper.
Blend or process nuts until mixture forms a coarse meal. Halve mandarins; discard seeds. Blend or process mandarins until pulpy.
Beat butter, extract and caster sugar in small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined between additions; transfer to large bowl. Stir in polenta, baking powder, nut meal and mandarin pulp.
Spread mixture into pan; bake about 1 hour. Stand cake 15 minutes; turn, top-side up, onto wire rack to cool. Serve cake dusted with sifted icing sugar.