A couple of weeks ago, one of our former students showed up at the college and started stacking up crates and crates of Seville oranges. Eighty kilos of Seville oranges. One hundred and seventy-six pounds of Seville oranges.
These oranges were free for the asking, and he thought that since we made marmalade for the college every winter, we might want to make a bit more. Let me tell you, that’s a lot of marmalade.
We were a bit daunted, and we immediately set to work on one of the boxes, which yielded 27 litres of chopped oranges, juice and water, later to be boiled with equal amounts of sugar to become quite a bit of marmalade for our store cupboard. Only seventy kilos to go.
We sent word around to all our foodie connections (FREE SEVILLES!) and got a few responses, but the stack of crates did not dwindle as quickly as we hd anticipated. It seems most people had already made plenty of marmalade for the year.
We started thinking of ways to disperse the oranges, and I was reminded of the glut of courgettes in the summer. I managed to unload – er I mean give – a few kilos to Anna, and a couple of other people came and took a kilo or two. We have enough marmalade at our house to last till next winter, but I brought a kilo home purely to make marmalade for my neighbour, who throughout the year brings me empty jam jars (whether it’s a hint or a gift, I’m not sure!).
In the meantime, I started tinkering with this dessert, which uses anywhere from 2-6 oranges at a time and tastes purely delicious, cloud-like and surprisingly healthy. It’s incredibly simple to make, especially if you make the orange curd in advance.
All of a sudden, I’m hoping there will be some Sevilles left when I get to work later.
Citrus Fool Dessert
I’ve been told that, being quite bitter, Seville oranges were originally grown solely for ornamental purposes. I’m not sure if that’s true, but they are bright orange, bumpy, and very aromatic, so I can imagine how lovely it would be to stroll down an avenue lined with these trees. I can attest, however, that they are extremely bitter and sour; even The Oldest, who will pop a lemon into her mouth with unbridled joy, was very unpleasantly surprised and exclaimed, “What’s wrong with that orange?!”
However, the British – never ones to leave a fruit alone – figured that with copious amounts of sugar, Sevilles might actually taste good on toast. And they were right. So every winter, Seville oranges are imported from Spain and scooped up by sun-starved Brits, ready to make jam. With that in mind, Seville orange curd seemed to me a good idea. (In case you were wondering, curd is a bizarre name for a British staple: a deliciously intense custard that can be used in desserts, mixed with whipped cream (as in this case) or even put on toast on its own.)
This dessert is not strictly speaking a fool, but it can pass. Mixing stewed fruit with custard is the traditional method, but curd and whipped cream is so light and delectable and, really, who would say no? Dare I say it? Only a fool!
A note about the glasses: A few years ago, I bought a case of French yogurt from a local food supplier. The yogurt was on sale, as it was nearing the end of its use-by date, but I didn’t care. I was sure The Oldest would finish off the contents in record time, but even if she didn’t, what I wanted was the cute glass pots the yogurt was packaged in. Let me tell you, that case of yogurt has paid for itself over and over. We’ve used those little glass jars for starting avocado plants, we’ve used them as tealights for outdoor parties, we’ve used them for making secret potions (er, one of us has, anyway) and now we are using them for this dessert. The glasses are the perfect size for this concoction which despite being light is very satisfying, with the bonus that they’re small enough that no one would look askance at you if you had two…
Makes 8 small (but more than adequate!) servings
- 300ml double cream (aka heavy cream)
- 340g Seville orange (or other citrus) curd (recipe below)
- 500g cherry compote (see note below)
Whip the cream until it just starts to form very soft peaks. Gently mix in 300g of the curd, then scoop the whole mixture into a piping bag with no tip attached. (If you don’t have a piping bag, you can make one following the method here, or you can use a ziploc bag, following the method here. Or you can eliminate the bag altogether and use a spoon to put the mixture into the glasses.)
Pipe a small layer of the curd/cream mixture onto the bottom of the glasses. Gently place the fruit compote in the glasses on top of the cream, trying to keep the layer even. At this point, you can tap the glasses on the counter a few times to even things out.
Now pipe a thicker layer of the curd/cream mixture on top. Finally, pipe or spoon a thin layer of plain curd on the very top. Tap the glasses gently to level the curd. Keep the dessert refrigerated until you are ready to serve.
- Zest of 2 oranges
- 150 ml juice of the 2 oranges
- 200g sugar
- 4 eggs
- 100g butter, room temp, cut into small pieces
In a bain marie (or a bowl placed over simmering water), whisk together the sugar, orange juice and eggs. Stir or whisk constantly until it is thick and custard-like (about 10 minutes).
Remove from the heat and, if necessary, strain through a fine sieve to get rid of any scrambled egg. Then whisk in the butter and the zest.
Pour the curd into clean jars and seal. Or if you are using it soon, cover the surface of the curd with cling film and put in the fridge to cool until you need it. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.
Cherry Compote – I used Bonne Maman cherry compote, but I doctored it up with 70g of sugar, and a couple tablespoons of kirsch. I boiled all this together until the liquid reduced slightly and formed a coating on the back of a spoon. If you can’t find cherry compote, you can do the same thing with frozen cherries.