Sophisticated desserts always include something unexpected. In this case white balsamic adds an exciting zing to the oranges and is further highlighted in the crunchy meringue shards that are drizzled in rich caramel.
White balsamic vinegar can be found at most large supermarkets and is also available at specialty food shops.
- 6 navel oranges
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 4 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
- 2 large egg whites
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 2 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon crème fraîche
For the oranges: Using a sharp paring knife, cut peel and pith from oranges, then cut each section of fruit away from membranes, cutting as close to membranes as you can. Squeeze juice from membranes into a medium bowl. Add ¼ cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vinegar; stir to dissolve sugar, then add orange segments and gently stir to combine. Let mixture stand at room temperature until orange segments are flavorful, about 1 hour. (Macerated oranges keep, covered and chilled, for up to 1 day.)
For the meringue: Heat oven to 300 degrees F with rack in middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; lightly coat with nonstick spray. Fill a medium saucepan with 2 inches water; bring water to a simmer. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat together egg whites, ¼ cup granulated sugar and the confectioners sugar on medium speed until well-combined, about 2 minutes. Set bowl over (but not touching) the simmering water, and whisk mixture until hot to the touch and not at all grainy, about 3 minutes.
Return bowl to mixer fitted with whisk and beat on medium speed until eggs are cool, thick and creamy (resembling shaving cream), about 10 minutes. Add 3 teaspoons vinegar and ¼ teaspoon salt; beat on low speed just to combine.
Evenly spread meringue, about ¼ inch thick, onto prepared baking sheet. Bake, rotating halfway through, until meringue is lightly golden, with no visible white patches, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheet on wire rack. Break meringue into large shards. (Meringue can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. If it loses its crunch, dry in a 300 degree F oven, 5 to 10 minutes.)
For the caramel: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine remaining ½ cup sugar, corn syrup and water. Gently whisk together mixture to ensure sugar is damp throughout, being careful not to get sugar on sides of pot. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture is golden at edges, 5 to 6 minutes, then gently whisk until a golden caramel forms, about 1 minute more.
Remove pot from heat and, one ingredient at a time, carefully whisk in butter, cream, crème fraîche and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Transfer caramel to a small metal bowl and chill over an ice bath, or refrigerate until cool. (Caramel keeps, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 2 weeks.)
To serve: In a small saucepan, gently heat caramel just until warm; remove from heat. Divide orange segments among 6 bowls; spoon a little macerating liquid over the top. Garnish with meringue shards, drizzle with caramel and serve immediately.