Spiced winter fruit with vanilla and lemon zest creamed cheese
100 apologies for the lack of blog yesterday… this is officially my 100th blog post and I had planned to post it yesterday but I had a chaotic super spoiled day yesterday. There were Xhosa lessons and heated political debates, a Brazilian hair treatment, mani and pedi (all care of a VERY special friend), there were discussions about a trip to France for a month in July and all kinds of excitement. Along with all this I did make and photograph one of my favourite special occasion desserts as it is a special thing for me to have reached my 100th blog and am more enthusiastic than ever
This dessert is very simple in itself but with a few little tweaks it goes from being a fruit salad to being spiced citrus syrup infused segmented orange and papaya topped with vanilla and lemon zest creamed cheese and tastes like a little bit of heaven.
I am a strong believer that a fruit salad, when being served as a dessert (iow not breakfast), should not include more than two fruits (at a push three) – their texture and flavour should complement each other and they should be cut and prepared with care. I also like to make a complimentary syrup to drizzle over the fruit for them to gain a little ‘je ne sais quoi’ so to speak and set it apart from simply being chopped up fruit.
I find the combination of papaya and orange works really well, especially when the orange has been segmented, so that you don’t have the wrestle with tough pith and membranes. The papaya should have a firm texture and has calming neutral taste which is the ideal foundation for the intense tartness of the orange.
The syrup I make uses the orange juice left after segmenting the oranges and I add warming spices and sugar to make a velvety wintery infusion for the fruit.
You could simply add vanilla ice cream to this dessert but if you want to try something slightly different and very much a part of my German heritage, make a sweetened vanilla cream cheese topping. It has a silky smooth mouth feel and works so well with this dessert.
I took a few photos of the segmenting process if you are not familiar with it as it really makes all the difference and adds a luxuriousness to the humble orange.
Winter fruit salad
3 large oranges, segmented*
½ a large ripe but firm papaya, peeled, seeded and cut into bite size chunks
¾ of a cup of orange juice
2 Tbsp of sugar
½ tsp of cinnamon
½ tsp of mixed spice
125ml of smooth cream cheese (not the hard ‘philadelphia’ kind)
1 Tbsp of castor sugar
½ tsp of vanilla essence
1 tsp of lemon juice
¼ tsp of grated lemon zest
To segment your oranges you need to start by cutting the top and bottom of the orange off. Then cut the skin away exposing the flesh of the orange and removing the outer membrane completely. Then using a very sharp knife you cut wedges of orange out by following the line the on the membranes running into the centre of the orange freeing the wedges of orange from the membrane. See the pictures below.
Into a small sauce pan squeeze the juice from what is left of the oranges after removing the segments. You should get about ¾ of a cup of juice from this. To this add the sugar and spices and allow this to simmer for about 15 minutes or until reduced to less than half and thickening slightly.
While the syrup is reducing, cut up your papaya and add this to the orange. Mix up all the ingredients for the cream cheese mixture and set it aside until ready for use.
Once the syrup is ready, allow it to cool a little before pouring it over the fruit. Lightly toss the fruit and leave this for a few minutes before serving. You can make this a few hours ahead of time and leave it in the fridge until ready for use.