The Best Thing I Ate All Week: The “Orange” at Billy Button Dessert Bar
Spoiler: it's not actually an orange.
April 17, 2019
Oranges are, by far, not my favourite fruit (how could it be when it has apples, strawberries and mangoes to contend with?). But I have a weird fondness of orange-related desserts. Well, mostly Terry’s Chocolate Oranges. (The fact that you have to knock it against something to break up the pre-cut slices of chocolate orange while it’s still in its packaging is great way to let off some steam, IMO.)
So when a friend sent me a link to Billy Button Dessert Bar’s Instagram geotag recently, where I proceeded to watch no less than six videos of guests methodically tapping—and, in some cases, smashing—the top of an “orange” so that it opened outward like a flower blossoming at the summit of spring, revealing some sort of sweet orange-y mash-up inside that, as far as I’m concerned, looked like the flesh of an orange but was definitely not the flesh of an orange, I knew I had to check this thing out for myself.
Flash forward to that evening when said friend and I made our way to Billy Button (which, by the way, is actually named after a flower!) and discovered that this off-menu special, which is literally dubbed “Orange” by the chef, is indeed not an orange. But it may as well have been: the spherical dessert is purposely crafted to mimic the look of that citrus fruit—a mandarin, if we’re being specific—grainy texture, size, hue, stem and all. And it tastes pretty damn like it, too, thanks to the delectable mass of orange-confit marmalade that’s revealed when you use a table knife to hit the top of the sweet so that the whole thing gently cracks open. (It’s a fun process, albeit a little jarring considering how convincing the dessert looks.)
What’s housing this gooey marmalade is a solid shell of white chocolate ganache, the outside of which has been sprayed with orange cocoa butter and pressed with a mould so that it replicates the rough exterior of an orange. (The interior of the ganache is left white to resemble the inside of an orange peel.) Together, the marmalade and ganache are a delight: bright, refreshing and not a smidge too sweet. And, as a result, incredibly easy to devour.
The whole thing reminds me of something you’d find at a high-end dessert parlour in Seoul or New York City, not a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-type joint at the intersection of Vancouver’s Main and Broadway. Which, really, just makes this find all the sweeter.
Orange, $8.50 at Billy Button Dessert Bar (144 E Broadway)