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Citrus with Orange Caramel

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Making fruit-based caramel sauces is something I learned from Lindsey Shere at Chez Panisse. Because you don’t quite recognize it-is it fruit or is it caramel?-it’s a beguiling sauce for this dish and others like ice creams, custards, rice or semolina puddings. As for the citrus, mix and match, using such fruits as blood oranges, tangelos, and Cara Caras, but be sure to include some-or even all-blood oranges for their lush color and berrylike flavor. Blood orange juice, even just a little, deepens the sauce to a burnished red. Having your knife razor-sharp makes peeling oranges a snap.

NotesPeel Oranges and Grapefruits Perfectly

If you want beautiful slices and sections of citrus fruit, use a sharp knife. Take a narrow slice off the stem and blossom ends. Using a sawing motion with your knife, cutdown the orange from top to bottom, slicing away the skin and the white pith that lies just under it. Now you can slice or section the fruit.

Serves4

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe Coursedessert

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturefruity, sweet, tart

Type of Dishdessert, dessert sauce, sauces

Ingredients

  • 8 citrus fruits for the compote (see headnote)
  • 1/3 cup organic sugar
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice, preferably blood orange
  • 1 short cinnamon stick
  • 1 clove
  • A few drops orange-flower water
  • Pomegranate seeds and/or fresh mint sprigs for garnish

Instructions

  1. Remove a wide band of the zest from 1 orange and slice into thin strips. Boil for 1 minute, then drain and set aside. Peel the rest of the fruits (see Notes), cut them into rounds, and put them in a bowl.

  2. Melt the sugar over medium heat in a light-colored skillet, stirring often until it turns a rich but not too dark caramel color. Standing back from the pan, pour in the juice. It will bubble ferociously, and the caramel will clench into a knot, but don’t worry. Add the reserved orange zest, cinnamon stick, and clove. Continue cooking and after about 5 minutes the caramel will have dissolved.

  3. Add the orange-flower water, slide in the fruits and swish them around, then pour the fruits and sauce into a bowl. Serve chilled or at room temperature, garnished with a handful of pomegranate seeds and/or sprigs of mint.

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