Ingredients for Caramel Sauce
1 or 2 sprigs of rosemary
225g granulated sugar
The juice of two oranges (freshly squeezed)
Zest of one orange
Ingredients for Oranges ...?!?
hmmm ... 6 x Fresh Oranges
4 x oranges for slicing
2 x oranges for juice and zest
(This will serve 6 people)
You will need a good solid pan to make the caramel sauce. I like to use a pale coloured pan, as this helps me to see the changing colour stages of the caramel - too dark and you'll be making fudge (which I have done by accident before). I would also suggest that the first few times you make a caramel sauce that you use a sugar/preserve thermometer if you want to be sure of the temperature rather than using only your eye.
Take TWO of the oranges, using your mircroplan or fruit zester, grate the zest of one orange and put in a small bowl for later. Then juice both the zested orange and the other orange (2 x oranges) and add the sprigs of rosemary to the juice as this is important for making the 'flavour' for the caramel sauce - set aside for about 30mins.
Preparing the caramel sauce: Caramel sauces are simple to make - so few ingredients - but there are rules. Firstly, make sure you have a jug of cold water and a pastry brush with you. Secondly, don't have anything else lined up for the next 10-15mins (I know; being child free can seem impossible and locking them up so you are, probably isn't the best option but perhaps NANNY TV can help out briefly), then line up your ingredients so that you're ready.
Have your orange juice (infused with rosemary) sitting close to hand but take out the rosemary sprigs. Place the sugar in the heavy based saucepan with the water. Pour in the sugar (not in a heap but evenly spread around the base) and dissolve slowly without stirring it or allowing the water to boil. If the edges start to bubble, use your wetted pastry brush to just brush down the pan side to a) cool it and b) make sure that none of the sugary syrup is sticking and potentially burning. Once all the sugar has dissolved, put in your preserve thermometer (if using) and turn up the heat and boil until it is a good caramel colour. DON'T shake it or stir it, just let the chemical reaction do it's job and keep brushing down the sides of with the wetted pastry brush if it seems to be sticking.
Once a good caramel colour or the temperature is at 110 degrees centigrade take off the heat and immediately pour in the orange juice. Take great care when at this point as it bubbles up ferociously as you add liquid. Once it stops bubbling, stir until any lumps have dissolved, and chill the syrup thoroughly.
Preparing the oranges: Start by peeling all the oranges as you would normally but don't break the oranges into segments or 'piggies' as we call them at home. The next step is to get rid of as much of the bitter white pith as conceivably possibly - use a fruit knife to help trim away, as leaving it on can sour the flavour and make the dish appear thrown together.
Once you have lovely clean fruit, cut them into neat slices so that when flat they look like a flower. Lay them in a colander and put a plate beneath to catch any of the juices. Cover and move these to the fridge to chill, you won't need them now until your ready to dress the dish.
It doesn't really matter why type of dish you choose to serve these caramel oranges in but I like either a white platter as the colour contrast is amazing or in a simply glass bowl - again the colour is so dense, that the dish looks uber inviting. Sieve out the rosemary (or pick it out if easier) from the syrup and start to dress your bowl with lovely sliced oranges by layering them, then pouring the caramel sauce over, adding another layer of oranges and more sauce. Once you have no more oranges to layer, pour on the last of the sauce. Now cover and put in the fridge. Remember that this dish is best served really well chilled, so if you are short on time, make the Orange/Rosemary Caramel Sauce the day before you need, keep the oranges in the fridge until you need to peel and chop them.
But all in all, a bit of a thank you has to go to Sue Perkins and her guest chefs for making me rethink my classic pudding - no more Grand Marnier in my oranges please ... just a little Rosemary and Sugar instead!