Ice Cream/Frozen Desserts

How to Turn an Orange into a Fancy Dessert

February  2, 2015

Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich is going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.

Today: Give oranges the treatment they deserve in this surprising dessert topped with luscious vanilla ice cream and refreshing sorbet. 

Now that you know how to segment oranges like a pro, put that lesson to good use (or, get some practice). This simple, seductive dessert is composed in individual serving bowls: small scoops of creamy vanilla ice cream and icy mango sorbet in a pool of juicy, scented orange segments with sticky dates, toasted almonds, and a fragrant top note of freshly grated cinnamon stick.  

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The combination was inspired by a salad in Paula Wolfert’s first Moroccan cookbook, published decades ago, that I never forgot. You could simply peel and slice the oranges, but then you would miss the luxurious play of textures that makes this dessert so very sensual. Vary the flavors by substituting walnuts for almonds and rose water for orange blossom.

Fragrant Oranges with Ice Cream, Almonds, and Dates

Adapted From Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts (Artisan 2012) by Alice Medrich

Makes 6 servings

8 oranges 
1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water, or to taste 
6 small scoops vanilla ice cream 
6 small scoops mango or orange sorbet 
12 plump dates, pitted and quartered 
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) chopped toasted almonds or toasted slivered almonds 
A cinnamon stick (optional) 


Microplane zester (optional) 

Up to 1 day before serving, prepare the oranges: Segment 6 of the oranges or simply peel and slice them, reserving the juices. Pick out any seeds and collect all of the juices and the segments or slices in a bowl. 

Cut the remaining 2 oranges in half and juice them. Add the juice to the bowl of orange segments and reserved juice. Flavor the oranges delicately with drops of orange blossom water to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, taste the juice and adjust the orange blossom water if necessary. Divide the oranges and juices evenly among six serving bowls. Nestle a small scoop of ice cream and a small scoop of sorbet in the center of each bowl. Distribute the quartered dates around the ice cream and sprinkle each dessert with the chopped almonds. Grate a little bit of the cinnamon stick over each bowl, if desired, and serve immediately.

Note about blossom waters: Orange blossom water (and rose water, too) is meant to be a beguiling nuance of flavor and fragrance, not a wallop, so use it with a very light hand. Correct the flavoring drop by drop and you can’t go wrong. 

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.

Pick up a copy of Alice's new book Flavor Flours, which includes nearly 125 recipes -- from Double Oatmeal Cookies to Buckwheat Gingerbread -- made with wheat flour alternatives like rice flour, oat flour, corn flour, sorghum flour, and teff (not only because they're gluten-free, but for an extra dimension of flavor, too).

Photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).

1 Comment

Leeann W. February 2, 2015
Yay! I have been making some form of this desser for the past 30 years-following current food fashion trends, but always basically the same. It never fails-is always a guest and family favorite.