Oranges with Balsamic-and-Anise Caramel

It’s no secret that I have a wicked sweet tooth. I love all desserts and confections and sometimes wish I could exist on pie and cake alone, but alas, that wouldn’t be very healthy would it? So, to satisfy my need for a sweet ending to a meal without the calories or the bake time, I decided to give this recipe a try. This recipe could work with other fruits as well (we added apple to the mix) but it does complement the citrus fruit very nicely. This is a perfect recipe for anyone looking to elevate simple fresh fruit to a more elegant dessert.

Though anise seed (not to be confused with star anise, which comes from a different family of plants) is used regularly in Mediterranean food and drink (absinthe, anyone?), I don’t come across it in my everyday cooking so I wasn’t sure if I’d be put off by its faint licorice taste. I found the flavor to be mild enough to make the perfect accompaniment to the bright, fresh orange. I hope to experiment with anise/anisette cookies around the holidays. In the meantime, enjoy this simple treat from Emilia-Romagna:

Oranges with Balsamic-and-Anise Caramel
Adapted from Epicurious Italy Fall 2014, originally published in Gourmet January 2007

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
1/3 cup high quality balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
4+ navel oranges

Bring sugar, anise seeds, and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a nonreactive saucepan (stainless steel, enameled cast iron, etc.).  Stir until sugar is dissolved, washing down any sugar on the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water.  Boil the syrup until the mixture is a golden caramel, gently swirling the pan (do not stir).

Reduce heat to low and carefully stir in vinegar slowly (mixture will steam and caramel will harden). Stir until caramel is dissolved, about 1 minute.

Cut the peel (including pith) away from the oranges and slice crosswise. Serve drizzled with warm sauce.




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