Do you remember pushing whole cloves into an orange to use as a Christmas decoration? We called them pomanders and I just love the smell of orange peel and clove. It speaks to me of Christmas. With a pretty ribbon pinned to the top to tie to the tree or sitting on the counter fragrancing the kitchen. But pushing those cloves into the oranges with your thumb really hurt. I always had visions of a big bowl full of pomanders gracing the table, but never had the fortitude to actually create that many. And I am not precise enough to make those perfect straight lines and patterns. So instead, I turn to cooking, combining the flavors of juicy orange and spicy cloves for a Christmas-perfect treat.
This caramel, when chilled and set, will be spreadable and is amazing on toast, biscuits or over the top of cinnamon rolls. You could also use it in the indentation of a thumbprint cookie. Warmed up, it can be poured over ice cream, bread pudding, French toast, even fresh orange segments. Use it as a dip for apple or pear slices, even pretzels. In a pretty jar with a ribbon, it makes a wonderful gift.
Orange Clove Caramel Spread
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (from about 2 oranges)
1 Tablespoon orange zest
¼ teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 cup heavy cream
½ cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- Zest 1 Tablespoon from the orange and set aside before squeezing the juice. Put the sugar and orange juice in a medium size saucepan and stir to combine. Drop in the whole cloves. Place over medium heat and let the sugar dissolve without stirring, just swirl the pan a few times to ensure even heat distribution. Raise the heat just to medium high and let the mixture bubble without stirring until it turns a rich amber color. It can take ten minutes or more to reach this stage. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn, just turns the color of sweet tea. Reduce the heat to medium and add the cream, about to tablespoons at a time so the mixture doesn’t sputter and splatter too much. Stir the entire time. Remove the pan from the heat and stir int the butter, a piece at a time, letting each piece melt and incorporate before adding the next. Stir in the reserved orange zest and ground cloves until combined. Let the caramel cool for about 15 minutes, then pour through a strainer into a half – pint jar to remove the cloves (or just pick them out with a fork or tongs). Cool completely, then cover tightly and refrigerate for up to ten days.
- The chilled caramel will be spreadable, but you can place the jar in a bowl of hot water to soften, then pour into a saucepan and reheat over low (or microwave if the storage jar is safe to do so).