Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dulce de Toronja

Sweetened Grapefruit Shells are as intrinsical to my culinary upbringing as you can get . . . yet this is the first time I make them.  That's what happens when you grow up surrounded by talented cooks - why bother, when your dear aunt makes the world's best?

This dessert, which I imagine originated amongst the peasantry who always makes use of everything available to them, is truly a labor of love.  I think it will become a lost art because few will devote the time it takes to make it.  I suppose that's another reason why I've never tried.  Also, this is not something my family will eat.  Isn't it sad?  They won't even try it!

But filled with Christmas nostalgia, which brought back so many memories of my childhood, and finding these beautiful white grapefruits at the supermarket, I was not able to resist.  This is my chance to document the process . . . who knows if I'll make it again?

Start with 5-6 large white grapefruits with as thick a skin as you can find.  Peel away the yellow zest, removing as little of the white skin as possible to keep the shell intact . . .  My sweet husband peeled them for me!


Once peeled, cut them in half . . . 


And then in quarters . . .


Remove the juicy sections . . .


Save them for the juicer . . . freshly pressed grapefruit juice is delicious!


Place the shells in a plastic bowl and soak overnight . . .


The next day, drain the shells and discard the soaking water . . .  Place the shells in a Dutch oven with fresh water to cover them and cook over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and then discard the water.  Repeat the procedure once more.


The shells will turn translucent . . .


Remove from heat, drain, gently pat them between paper towels to remove excess water . . .  Then, if you suffer from OCD you might like to remove some of the extra fibrous strings that are still clinging to the shells . . .


Now we are ready to make the syrup . . .


In a Dutch oven add 2 cups of sugar, 4 cups of water and a cinnamon stick and stir until dissolved . . .  Add the shells and cook over low-medium heat until the syrup thickens. . .


Allow the shells to cool at room temperature.  Transfer to a glass bowl and refrigerate.


Serve cold with edam or gouda cheese . . .


How do I describe the taste . . . ?  First of all, it has a citrusy freshness.  It retains some of the tartness of the grapefruit, but it's very sweet at the same time.  The shells absorb the syrup, so a delightful juiciness bursts out when you bite into a slice.  The cheese balances the sweetness and its creaminess adds another layer of complexity to this lovely dessert.

It may be peasant fare . . .  It may never catch on . . . I wish it would . . .

9 comments:

Stephanie said...

that looks and sounds wonderful!

joscelyne cutchens said...

that looks really good! I have never heard of this before.

Reds said...

Looks like a lot of work but sure must be yummy!

Thisisme. said...

I've certainly never heard of that recipe before. It does sound delicious, but pretty time consuming I would think! But I'm sure it was worth it for you when you took that first bite! YuM!

Anonymous said...

This looks amazing and quite delicious.
But I see the tedious part of this as well.

Francine said...

Haven't made this yet since I asked for the recipe. You taught me so many wonderfully tasting foods...but this is my favorites! I'm inspired to finally do it!

Nicki said...

that is incredibly time intensive and understandably a delicacy as a result - but oh such tradition and I imagine delight. I think some of the more special things are those that came about out of necessity - from generations that couldn't even fathom our wasted abundance.

Won't even taste it - shame on them!

Barb said...

I have never had it prepared like that. It looks good and interesting.

Angela2932 said...

This seems exotic and brilliant! I love the idea of combining them with gouda! Such a flavor combination! Lately, because I have Brie left over from Christmas, I've been combining it with everything, especially slices of red pepper, but I'm thinking something like grapefruit might be good too. But not like this exquisite dish! Thanks for sharing all the photos to show us what you and Lee did.