Grapefruit doesn’t have to be boring. Kick it up with a nose-tingling cinnamon, cardamom and powdered vanilla blend. Run it through a hot oven and you’ll have Sugar n’ spice broiled grapefruit — a warm, juicy bite of sunshine, with a delectable caramely-spiced crust that’s ready in under 10 minutes.
My Mom used to make this for us as kids, back in the day. It was simple — just grapefruit and sugar, set under the broiler a minute or two to heat the fruit and melt the sugar. The sugar cut the sour edge of grapefruit just enough and the warm fruit was a welcome diversion from my usual bowl of corn flakes.
So, no, broiled grapefruit isn’t a new thing — but it’s worth revisiting. In this version, we’ve amped up the traditional sugar topping with ground cinnamon, floral cardamom and powdered vanilla to smooth out the edges.
Sourcing Powdered Vanilla:
I apologize in advance for this because I generally don’t use obscure ingredients on this site. I came across powdered vanilla when I took a trip to France a few years ago — where it’s sold in every market. Unfortunately, it’s not that way here in the States, and when I searched for powdered vanilla on Amazon I found a lot of wannabes… Though Neilsen-Massey has a vanilla powder available, but it wasn’t 100% pure vanilla (I haven’t tried it, so I don’t know how it performs) The powdered vanilla I got in France isn’t overwhelming, but its distinct aroma and mellow flavor softens the intensity of the grapefruit, cinnamon and cardamom. You could also use vanilla sugar or just omit the vanilla altogether for a stronger spice profile.
How To Make Sugar n’ Spice Broiled Grapefruit:
- In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and powdered vanilla (do not substitute vanilla extract or vanilla paste — it will just make a mess…)
- Slice two grapefruit in half crosswise.
- Use a bird’s beak knife or small sharp paring knife to cut the individual segments of fruit away from the membrane and peel.
- Sprinkle each half of the grapefruit evenly with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and spice mixture.
- Place the grapefruit halves on a baking sheet lined with tin foil (do not use parchment paper as it can get too close to the heating element in the oven and catch fire).
- Broil the grapefruit form 4-5 minutes until the sugar is melted and slightly caramelized and the grapefruit is warmed through.
- An optional enhancement is to add another layer of caramel after the grapefruit have been broiled… Sprinkle on a bit more of the sugar mixture and use the flame of a kitchen torch to transform the sugar blend into a brûlée. It’s not necessary, but is definitely a wow-zer if you happen to have a torch.
- Serve immediately.
December through February is peak citrus season in Florida, so if that happens to be where your grapefruit comes from (and I sure hope it is), you’ll definitely want to make Sugar n’ spice broiled grapefruit at least a couple of times this winter.
What Does Broiled Grapefruit Taste Like?
Broiling grapefruit intensifies the juiciness of the citrus and the caramelized sugar, spices and powdered vanilla, mellow its signature tart pucker. Scott had never had this before and when I brought it from the table, he was hesitant. “Hot grapefruit?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“What are those dark specks on top?”
“Some spices and powdered vanilla.”
“Powdered vanilla? Hmmm. Interesting.” (That’s Scott speak for where do you come up with this stuff?) Scooping up the grapefruit segments with his spoon, he peppered me with more questions. “Why does the fruit pop out so easily?”
“I cut the segments from the membrane.”
“While it’s still in the fruit? You can do that?”
He cracks me up!
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Spiced Grapefruit Brûlée
- 2 large grapefruit I used ruby red
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon powdered vanilla optional
- Move the rack to the top position in your oven. Preheat the oven to BROIL. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. (note: do not use parchment paper -- if it gets too close to the broiler element, it will catch on fire -- ask me how I know that!!!)
- Use a sharp knife to slice the grapefruit in half cross-wise. Use a small paring knife or bird's beak knife to loosen the grapefruit segments from the pith. Place the grapefruit on the prepared baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and powdered vanilla (if using). Sprinkle one tablespoon of sugar mixture evenly over each grapefruit.
- Transfer the grapefruit to the broiler and broil for 4-5 minutes or until the sugar is melted and slightly caramelized. Serve.
- Note: you can also use a kitchen torch to achieve this, but you still want to heat the grapefruit for several minutes in a hot oven... this releases more juices and warms the fruit all the way through (if you just melt the sugar on top of the grapefruit the interior of the fruit would remain at room temperature.)
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