Arance caramellate (Oranges in caramel)

Winter is the season for citrus fruits and there are many lovely ways to enjoy them. Blood oranges are my favourite and well worth seeking out. I like to use them in salads and desserts, although other types of oranges can be used.

Arance caramellate or Oranges in caramel is a classic Italian dessert that is especially beautiful when made with blood oranges. It is a perfect ending to a winter or spring meal. This dessert was made popular in the early 1970s by the London Cordon Bleu School through their classes and books.

In Italy the peeled oranges are often served whole but in this recipe they are cut into slices. This makes them easier to eat and every slice will be drenched with the delicious caramel syrup.

Photography by Andrew Sikorski

Serves 6


  • 8 blood oranges or 6 navel oranges or a mix of both
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold water and 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 lemon if needed


  1. The caramel can be made ahead as it keeps well in a jar in the fridge. To make it, place the sugar and cold water in a saucepan over low heat and stir to dissolve. Then turn the heat up a little and bring the syrup to a steady boil. Don’t stir now but you can swirl the pan occasionally. Cook until the syrup turns to a rich brown caramel. This will take about 10 minutes and you do need to keep an eye on it.
  2. Protect your hand holding the saucepan handle with a glove or towel, as the caramel will splutter as the water is added. Place the pan in the sink as an extra precaution and add the hot water. Stir gently to dissolve and if necessary return to the heat for a minute.
  3. For the shredded rind garnish, scrub two of the oranges thoroughly. Thinly pare the rind from the oranges in lengths with a sharp knife or vegetable peeler. There shouldn’t be any bitter white pith on the rind. Cut the lengths of rind into fine strips or shreds. ( This can be done with a zester instead, if you have one.) Plunge the shredded rind into boiling water for one minute, drain and set aside.
  4. Using a sharp serrated knife cut the peel off each orange around in a spiral or cut off the top and base first and then down the sides. Do this over a plate to collect the juices. Take care to remove all the pith from the orange.
  5. Cut the oranges into slices (on a plate) and place them in a serving bowl with the collected juice. Pour the caramel syrup over the orange slices and macerate in the fridge for at least an hour or longer. Taste the syrup and if it’s too sweet add a squeeze of lemon or a little orange juice.
  6. Serve the oranges and syrup chilled and decorated with the shredded zest.


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