Blood orange, vanilla cream and chocolate soil

Lots of print and screen space is devoted to showing new ways to cook seasonal fruit and vegetables. Too much, perhaps. Because generally you can’t beat the traditional methods and, as in the case of this particular fruit, sometimes there should be no cooking at all. Often, eating things in their raw state is the best way to celebrate them.

Blood oranges are stunning – both visually and taste wise. There is little need to mess around. Much better to simply match them with complementary flavours and textures.

I thought dry, slightly bitter, slightly salty, crumbly chocolate soil, and cold, vanilla infused cream would be a good start. And it was. Chocolate and orange: we know that works. Vanilla cream and any sweet and sharp fruit: also great.

The soil is easy: a chocolate crumb taken from a recipe by New York restaurant Momofuku Milk Bar. It takes little effort to produce a very pleasing hard, dusty cookie dough type thing. You can find the method on The Guardian website. Though if you’ve a sweet, slightly trashy tooth, then I heartily recommend buying the book. Lots of inspiration within.

I only had double cream in the house, but I suggest using whipping cream for a feather light Chantilly. In fact, I look at that picture and shudder with embarrassment at the ugly, heavy looking lump of slightly over-whipped, sweetened double cream. So my recipe reflects this.

Of course, an attractive alternative is to simply peel the orange and eat it.

Blood orange, vanilla cream and chocolate soil

Serves 4

  • 2 blood oranges
  • 160g whipping cream
  • 15g icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence or the seeds of 1/2 a fresh vanilla pod
  • 120g Momofuku chocolate crumb (soil)

Prepare the chocolate crumb / soil in advance. The Momofuku recipe makes about 350g and keeps well in an airtight box. 30g per person will do here.

Using a sharp pairing knife, take the top and the bottom 5mm off each of the oranges, so that they sit flat on a chopping board. Skin each of the oranges with the knife, following the shape of the orange, removing the skin and the pith and leaving just the flesh. Then slice each of the oranges horizontally, leaving beautiful, blood splattered (just coloured, hopefully) discs. Each person gets half an orange.

Pour the the whipping cream into a mixing bowl. Add the icing sugar and vanilla, then whisk to ribbon stage with a hand held, elbow powered, balloon whisk. We want it to be beautifully light, not curdled, so take care. It’s a small amount so doesn’t take much effort. As soon as the cream starts to tighten, stop, then just whisk a couple of flicks at a time. Catering school would tell you to whisk over a bowl of ice.

Pile 30g of chocolate crumbs on the top right third of each plate. Arrange the orange discs to the left of the chocolate, then spoon a good dollop of cream in between the two. Lovely stuff.