I’ve attempted to make this twice and failed twice. But this is no reflection on the recipe. It just reflects on my absent mindedness and my inability to plan. The first time I ruined the recipe by forgetting that the toffee was simmering on the stovetop. This was a bubbling over with black sugar kind of accident, ruining the stove, pot and my fragile self esteem. The second time I attempted this I failed to leave enough time before our expected arrival at a dinner party to cook the toffee. I ended up with syrup poured over the oranges instead of the contrast of a crunchy toffee – still delicious but not the triumph I had planned. How did I manage to stuff up something so simple, twice? But Sarah has perfected it since I’ve been gone. Tangy oranges, crunchy toffee, creamy yoghurt and the hint of cardamom. The kitchen should be filled with the lovely scent of cardamom as the toffee cooks.
This is a desert for a warm evening. It’s so refreshing. It is the essence of halftime oranges at school oval netball or soccer. A recipe where the oranges play the starring role. If you’ve got inferior oranges, it’s going to taste inferior. The navels need to be the kind of orange that reminds you how good an orange can be. The yoghurt has a creamy, almost cheesecake flavour when served with the oranges. It is a perfect marriage. The cardamom is subtle, and takes the recipe from school oval to sophistication.
Eat it outside, on your porch, with plum wine after a burger.
Chilled Caramelised Oranges with Greek Yoghurt
(Adapted from Nigella Lawson, Forever Summer)
“Don’t make them too far in advance: after a day, the sugary carapace will disappear, melting into the fruit’s juices.” (Lawson) Couldn’t have said it better. Just enough time for them to be cold in the fridge.
6 navel oranges or any small thin-skinned variety
500g caster sugar
8 cardamom pods, crushed
Greek yoghurt (approx 500g)
Using a small sharp knife, cut a thin slice off the top and bottom of the oranges, and then slice off the skin vertically, turning the orange as you go, being careful to keep as much flesh as possible but removing all pith. Slice each orange into 5mm thick rounds. Pile them into a dish you want to serve them on (the more messily the more surface area for the toffee to set on) and drain any juices away so the toffee stays crisp.
To make the caramel, put the sugar, water and cardamom pods into a large saucepan and swirl (not stir) a little to dissolve the sugar. Then slowly bring to the boil without stirring, until the syrup becomes a dark amber colour. The point of toffee-ing is the hard part of this recipe. Think of the colour of the toffees at school fetes. A good way to tell it’s thickening is that the bubbles get bigger and slower. Pop a spoon in the toffee carefully and take out - it’s ready when the toffee hardens straight away.
Take the saucepan off the heat and tip out any juice that has accumulated in the dish of oranges. Quickly pour the toffee over the orange slices. Act with speed otherwise the caramel will set before you can get it out of the saucepan. Leave the cardamom pods in if you don’t mind picking them out. Let the oranges cool, and then put them in the fridge to chill for half an hour.
Serve with yoghurt.