Orange liqueur coaxes the natural juices from fresh fruit while macerating dried fruit to sweet perfection for a healthy, light dessert.
If presentation counts for anything, the fruit cup at one of New York’s fanciest restaurants was a stunner. There was nothing on the menu that indicated it was anything more than fruit in a dish, but it sounded like a good way to wind up a meal that had more than its share of butter and cream. So we ordered it.
What came next was practically the gourmet equivalent of the crown jewels being brought to the table. It took two waiters to pull it off; one to announce its arrival and sweep away any lingering crumbs and another to put the dish down. The dish, actually a parfait glass so tall it came with an extra-long spoon, was perched on smaller dish, known in the trade as an “underliner.”
From where we sat, the top of the glass was a long reach away. At any other place we might have asked for a boost from a Manhattan telephone book, but this was not that kind of place. And so, while everyone dug into their creme brulee and chocolate mousse, we went to work on the fruit.
As desserts go, fruit is easy and versatile, and even the smallest of extra steps gives an added dimension. This spring fruit compote, for instance, is a combination of dried apricots, orange, pineapple and fresh berries.
But before the berries are added, the ingredients are marinated in an orangy mixture of Grand Marnier and marmalade. It comes to the table in ordinary stemmed glasses—no team of waiters, no special spoons, just a deliciously simple fruit cup that can be adapted to include anything in season.
Berries, pineapple and dried apricots meld in a light syrup of Grand Marnier or orange juice.