Looking for something clever to serve your guests this Fourth of July? Why not make a few firecracker blossoms, with spicy dipping sauce. Our version of this crowd pleasing favorite is allergen free and baked, not fried, so you can feel better about chowing down on an extra hotdog or ten. The secret to getting the texture right (so that the onion isn’t crunchy and raw) is briefly parboiling and chilling it, before baking.
1 vidalia or other sweet onion – about 4-5 inches in diameter
water for boiling, shocking, and dipping (see instructions)
1 box (20oz) Better Batter Gluten Free Seasoned Flour
cooking spray, melted margarine, or oil
Cookie sheet and parchment paper, and sharp knife
1 recipe Firecracker Dipping Sauce (below)
This recipe is very simple but takes a bit of preparation.
Peel the onion, making sure to leave the root on (the thicker part of the bottom with the little strings on the edge). Using a very sharp knife, cut off 1/4 inch of the BLOSSOM end (the part without the round, flat base). Very carefully make a slice down the center of the onion from the cut side, going toward the root side. STOP about 3/4 inch from the bottom. Rotate the onion and make another cut, exactly like the first, across the onion. Rotating the onion continue to make even slices in the onion in precisely the same way, so that you create wedge shaped “pie” pieces, equal in length, about 1/2 inch wide, always stopping about 3/4 inch from the bottom. The closer you cut to the bottom the better the flour tends to adhere, but the more the blossom falls apart in cooking.
Place a 2 quart or larger pan of water on to boil – the pan should be wide enough to fit the onion comfortably and deep enough that when you parboil the onion it is submerged completely.
Also prepare an ice bath, using the same criteria for width and depth. You will want the ice bath bowl to be reasonably wide, as this is where the onion will ‘bloom’ and then set before dipping and baking. You will want LOTS of ice in the bath.
As soon as the water in the pan boils, gently place the onion, cut side down, in the pan and drop the heat to medium low. Allow to simmer for about 3-5 minutes, or until onion looks softened but not mushy.
Immediately remove from simmering water and place, cut side down in the ice bath. Allow to soak for 30 minutes. You should see the onion start to bloom – do not try to force this! The blossom will continue to bloom as it cooks.
Remove onion from ice water, reserving the water for dipping the blossom as you coat it.
Place the seasoned flour in a large bowl with a lid – you will need nearly all the flour, and the more you use, the better the result. You don’t necessarily need a lid, but it will make the process cleaner and easier. Shake excess water off the blossom and place in the bowl. Either coat with flour manually, or place the lid on and give the bowl a gentle shake. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Repeat the process again, starting with dipping the coated onion in the reserved water, and ending with giving the bowl a shake, up to three times. Each time you coat the onion, the coating will get thicker. Use your discretion – too much coating will make the onion take longer to cook and may make it dry and gummy.
Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, to allow coating to adhere, before gently shaking off the excess flour. You want to see a coating of ‘batter’ on each of the petals of the blossom.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place parchment paper on a cooking sheet (it is best if you use a rimmed cooking sheet). Place blossom on cooking sheet. Spray well with cooking spray or drizzle with up to 1/4 c melted margarine or oil.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer to a serving plate. Using a sharp knife, cut out a circle from the center, about the diameter of the core. This should cause the onion to bloom nearly completely. Place a small custard cup in the center of the bloom, where the hole is, and fill with Firecracker Dipping Sauce (recipe below). Serve immediately.
Firecracker Dipping Sauce
1/2 c Mayonnaise (you can use an allergen free version if you like)
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp grated horseradish
1/3 tsp smoked paprika
Mix all ingredients together. Improves upon standing.