Do you know the word verrine? I looked it up. It’s French for protective glass. And, for reasons that I don’t understand since I don’t speak French, it’s the word used to describe any appetizer or dessert that’s composed of various tasty components artfully layered into a glass. My first encounter with a verrine was on a trip to Paris, when I first laid eyes on Pierre Herme’s Émotion Ispahan. Ever since that moment, I’ve had nothing but verrines on the brain, I’ve been dreaming up verrine after verrine. Tahitian vanilla panna cotta, diced strawberries, and diced lavender gelée with a tuile. Caramel gelée, diced caramel-poached pears, lemon mousse, and a pear chip. Green tea gelée, apricot gelée, and crumbled French macarons. But now it’s time to stop dreaming and start making—I finally got just the perfect cups to do it!
Citrus & Caramel Verrines
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups plus 1 tablespoon water
1 orange, cut into 1/8-inch slices
2 ½ teaspoons (1 envelope) gelatin
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¾ cup milk
¾ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon grated Meyer lemon zest
½ vanilla bean
Suprêmes from 1 orange
Suprêmes from 1 Meyer lemon
Suprêmes from 1 grapefruit
Suprêmes from 2 tangerines
1 tablespoon orange liqueur, optional
Preheat the oven to 250˚F. Combine 2 tablespoons of the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the water in a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar dissolves. Dip the orange slices into the sugar syrup to coat and arrange them about an inch apart on a parchment-lined baking tray. Bake for 35 minutes. Using a spatula, turn the slices and bake another 35 to 40 minutes, or until dry but not brown. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Meanwhile, slowly sprinkle 1 ¼ teaspoons of the gelatin over the orange juice. Combine ½ cup of the sugar and 3 tablespoons of the water in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, brush down the sides of the pan with water, and boil for 5 to 6 minutes, or until caramelized. The sugar will be fragrant and a deep amber color when it is caramelized. Remove the pan from the heat and dip the bottom into an ice water bath for a second or two. Slowly stir in the remaining 1 ¼ cups of water. Return the pan to low heat and stir until smooth. Increase the heat to medium and heat to a bare simmer. Whisk in the gelatin mixture and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Chill over an ice bath until just beginning to thicken. Divide the mixture among 6 juice or dessert cups. Refrigerate for about an hour, or until set.
Measure ¼ cup of the milk into a small bowl and slowly sprinkle over the remaining 1 ¼ teaspoons of gelatin. Combine the remaining ½ cup of milk, remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, cream, orange zest, and lemon zest in a small saucepan. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and add both the pod and the seeds to the pan. Heat to a bare simmer. Whisk in the gelatin mixture and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Chill over an ice bath until just beginning to thicken. Divide among the dessert cups. Refrigerate for about an hour, or until set.
Toss together the suprêmes along with their juices and the orange liqueur, if desired, in a medium bowl. Divide among the dessert cups. Leave at room temperature for about an hour. Top each with 1 of the candied orange slices and serve.
Makes 6 servings. Can be made up to a day ahead of time and kept covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator. It’s best at room temperature, so take it out of the fridge about an hour before serving, and top with the candied orange slices at the last minute. Juice cups with an 8-ounce capacity are just right for this dessert, and you will need about 3 oranges for this recipe.