Grapefruit is in season and many of us may have a bitter-sour relationship with it, but in dessert form it transforms into a sweet, tart, bright fruit that is far from the diet-food version of itself.
Full disclosure – I struggled with this one. In my very first FBC newsletter I came across the call for recipe round-ups for January. It is citrus month and by the time I saw the mail, the deadlines for lemon and orange had already passed. Ofcourse I wanted orange. Who doesn’t want orange!
Grapefruit and lime were still open opportunities so after giving it a thorough thought, I decided to go with grapefruit. Primarily because I have this hate-hate relationship with the fruit that began in Dubai when I went through a crash diet phase where I force-fed myself half a grapefruit every morning, before coffee! Yikes. I had held on to that for way too long. It was time to let go. Challenge myself and all!
I had this amazing idea of making grapefruit kulfi. I did make grapefruit kulfi after grilling and pureeing the fruit and cooking the milk down to half and freezing the weird concoction that seemed wrong even before it all came together. Now there is a reason that grapefruit kulfi does not exist on Pinterest. Bitter-sour grapefruit and caramelized, thickened milk flavors do not go well. It is not yuck but it is not pleasant. I have not given up on the concept. Persistence.
But it is essential to know when to give up and pursue a different idea, especially when there is a deadline. So I went a different way. My mom used to make these Indianized English trifles on special occasions and we would always look forward to it. It was so special. Decadent layers of cake and custard and cream and fruit. She would throw in whatever fruit she could get her hands on. Sometimes, she even added jelly or chocolate cookies. I don’t really know, why I thought about that in context of grapefruit because there was never ever any grapefruit in her trifle. I didn’t even know what a grapefruit was, till I got to Dubai. But well, that’s where the idea for this one came from.
However, since I am a sucker for bite-sized desserts, I made a individual portions of this instead of a giant trifle. I placed it all on a Ottolenghi’s delicate nutty florentine, instead of cake, because cake would have gone soggy. The great thing about this recipe is that the individual elements are great to be eaten on their own so if you think for a minute that all this is way too much trouble for small bite sized dessert, simply make double portions of it all (except whipped cream… i don’t know) and save separately for extra snacking.
What I learnt
Caramelized milk and grapefruit do not go well together
To reduce the bitterness of grapefruit exponentially, get rid of all the pith or the white parts, this works much better than adding sugar or salt.
Serves 12 – 14
For the Marinated Grapefruit
1 large or 2 medium grapefruits
2 tbsp Aperol (optional)
Pinch of salt
Dash of pepper
1 tbsp sugar
Supreme the grapefruit making sure to remove all the pith (white skin bits that give it the bitter taste). Save the peel for the candied peel.
Mix the flesh with all the other ingredients and refrigerate overnight or for a few hours.
For the Grapefruit-Ginger Curd
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (save the zest for the cream and florentines)
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
4 large yolks
Pinch of salt
1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter cut into small pieces
Set a mesh sieve over a bowl and set aside.
In a large heatproof bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the curd together and set in a double boiler over simmering water. This takes a while longer but is less riskier. Alternately, you can place all ingredients in a saucepan and place it on direct heat. Take extra care if you go this route. Have a rubber spatula handy to get to the edges of the saucepan.
Whisk till all the butter has melted.
Increase the heat and keep whisking till the curd starts to thicken into gloopy, fudgy consistency. Remove from heat and immediately pass it through the sieve into the bowl.
Cover with clingwrap, touching the surface of the curd and let cool. Refrigerate for atleast 2 hours or overnight.
For the Candied Grapefruit Peel.
With a sharp paring knife remove the white part from the peel. This procedure is like removing skin off a fish. The skin should be thin and almost translucent. Cut into thin strips.
Put the peel strips in a saucepan with cold water just covering all the peel and boil for a few minutes. Then strain the peel and repeat the procedure two more times. This is to reduce the bitterness.
Next boil the grapefruit peel a fourth time with 1 cup water and ½ cup sugar till the water +sugar is almost evaporated. This may take around 15 mins. Take care to not burn.
Carefully remove the peel from the hot saucepan, and lay individually on parchment paper and let dry overnight. Once dried, put them in an airtight container with some icing sugar and give it a good shake.
For the Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
¼ cup icing sugar
¼ tsp grapefruit zest
1 tbsp of the juice from the marinated grapefruit
Whip the cream till soft peaks form. Add the sugar and zest and whip till stiff. Finally fold in the juice.
For the Florentines
¾ cup of sliced blanched almonds and pistachios
¼ cup instant oats
1-2 tsp grapefruit zest
1 egg white at room temperature
1/3 cup icing sugar
Preheat oven to 300F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Grease the paper with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Set aside.
In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and lightly mix.
Wet your hands with some cold water and working with 11/2 tbsp of cookie mixture at a time, press them onto the prepared baking sheet into round discs. Make them as thin as possible without creating gaps.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden. Let cool completely.
Spoon the grapefruit curd and the whipped cream into separate piping bags with plain nozzle tips. First pipe the curd onto the cookies. Then pipe the whipped cream on top of the curd. Top with a whole or half a slice of the marinated grapefruit (make sure to gently squeeze the pieces so you don’t get too much of the juice onto the cookie or it will be messy). Top with a slice of the candied grapefruit peel.
Note – If not serving the entire quantity, store all the components separately in air tight containers.
Grapefruit Curd recipe adapted from David Lebovitz
Florentine recipe very slightly adapted from Ottolenghi