What do you get when you cross orange salad with tiramisu? In my case, you get something a lot like a very orangey, boozy, rich, trifle. Which I choose to call ‘orange me up’, because tiramisu means ‘pick me up’, and I find the phrase ‘orange me up’ amusing. And I was feeling decidedly oranged-up after eating this. Though ‘Orangey Sue’ also has a certain silly appeal.
This, incidentally, is what happens when I try to make a light, healthy dessert. I do fine at moderately healthy fruity desserts, such as fruit crumbles or fruit pies or balsamic strawberries with mascarpone, and sometimes I even like fruit salads, but there is something about the whole fruit-in-fruit-syrup that just brings out the worst in me. I can’t leave it alone. It’s not a proper dessert.
But… there I was, with no idea what to make for dessert, and I saw this recipe in Cook Simple for citrus fruits in orange and rosemary syrup, and it had blood oranges (which I have from the market), oranges (of which I have a tree full), lemons (ditto), rosemary (which I have in my garden) and grapefruit (which are certainy in season)! Clearly, this was the way to go. The recipe suggested serving it with crême fraiche and almond biscuits. I started enthusiastically planning acts of Extreme Biscuit Baking, but realised that with guests only an hour away and dinner not really made, this would be a bad idea. And then the supermarket had sponge fingers on special, and I thought, hey, mascarpone is better than crême fraiche, and also, mascarpone + sponge fingers = tiramisu! Which is way, way, too rich, and moreover has coffee in it (ugh!), but oranges would cut the richness…
And here we are. This recipe makes enough to feed at least 8 people, and would probably be better spread around 12. I suspect it would stretch to 16, especially if you made a little more of the orange salad.
Your Shopping List500 ml fresh orange juice 200 ml water 175 g white sugar 3 sprigs rosemary juice of 1/2 a lemon 2 oranges 3 blood oranges 1 pink grapefruit 2 tangellos 175 g sponge finger biscuits 50 ml grand marnier 125 ml semi-sweet sherry 250 ml fresh orange juice 250 g mascarpone 250 g ricotta (the softer kind that comes in a tub) 2 tablespoons caster sugar, or to taste 50 g good dark chocolate
Now what will you do with it?
Put 250ml of the orange juice in a small saucepan with the water, white sugar, and one sprig of rosemary. Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved, then bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the lemon juice and the rest of the rosemary to the syrup, and let cool.
While the syrup is simmering, prepare everything else. Put the mascarpone, ricotta and caster sugar in a bowl, and grate in the chocolate. Zest one or two oranges, and add the zest to the mascarpone mixture. Taste, and if you’re happy with it, refrigerate for now.
Mix the grand marnier and sherry with the rest of the orange juice in another bowl, and set aside.
Prepare the rest of the fruit. Basically, you want to get all the peel and the pith off them. Which, incidentally, you may want to set aside to make candied peel. I wish I’d thought of that earlier, but I wasn’t feeling too alert at the time. Anyway, the easiest way is probably to slice off each end, and then cut from top to bottom, following the shape of the fruit. Slice them as thinly as you can without having them fall apart, and remove any seeds you find. And work over the sink, because you are going to get a lot of juice flowing everywhere (I managed to trap most of mine in a bowl, and then poured it off into the lemon drink, which made it go a beautiful pale pink colour. You could also add it to the grand marnier mixture.).
Now you can start assembling the trifle! The low-risk way to do this is to do what I did: I dipped each sponge finger into the grand marnier mixture, and laid them in layers in a big glass bowl, with the mascarpone mixture between each layer.
I then refrigerated everything for a couple of hours, and then arranged some of the oranges and syrup over the top just before serving, and served the rest on the side.
How gorgeous is that? You could go a bit more high risk and have a layer of oranges in the middle, and refrigerate it like that, and then add your layer of oranges at the end. This would taste excellent, but there is the slight possibility that the citrus juice would cause your mascarpone to separate or curdle, which would not be good.
Obviously, the orange salad is lovely on its own, with a beautiful subtle rosemary flavour, and that’s about the only way you are going to make this dish dairy-free without going the weird tofu-cheesecake route. But if you are determined to do dairy-free orangey sue, I’d try going half and half coconut cream and smooth tofu, beaten together with the orange rind, chocolate and sugar. Or maybe add some soy yoghurt? Or, here’s a thought, you could make a semi-frozen version for summer using soy icecream (soften a little and stir in zest and chocolate, but not sugar, and then freeze for an hour or so). I’m sorry, I really can’t speak to this very well, because I really don’t like soy dairy products as a main flavour, and they can’t really be anything else here.
This dessert is never going to be low-GI or low far, but it is egg-free, nut-free, and possibly low fructose (allegedly, citrus fruits are OK for people on a low fructose diet, but I am definitely, definitely not knowledgeable about this, especially as it seems to be very variable between individuals).
In terms of gluten-free versions, I have no idea whether anyone makes gluten-free sponge fingers, but I’ve certainly seen gluten-free gingersnaps around the place, which would give you a different, but also good dessert. Gingersnaps do go nice and cakey when you dip them in apricot juice and then layer them with apricots and yoghurt, so I think they’d be just fine here.