Cape gooseberries (or physalis) dipped in caramelised sugar are not only absolutely delicious, they are also very beautiful and eye-catching to look at – small, shiny, amber coloured marbles that are just asking to be eaten. They have a sweet and tangy flavour that resembles strawberries and pineapples – and with the added sweetness and crunch of the caramelised sugar on the outside they make an ideal accompaniment to various puddings. I served them at this week’s pop-up dinner at the farm with honey panna cotta and cinnamon shortbread.
Here is how to make them. The quantities below will yield enough to coat around 25 cape gooseberries.
Firstly, peel back the papery leaves surrounding the cape gooseberries and pinch the leaves together at the base so they remain folded back from the fruit. (You can gently fold the leaves inside out if they try and close up around the fruit again.)
Next, put 225g of granulated sugar and 300ml water in a heavy-based saucepan and place over a gentle heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Allow it to bubble away until it starts to change from a clear syrup to a thicker, amber liquid, at which point it is ready. I know it’s stating the obvious but don’t, whatever you do, dip your finger in. By this stage, the sugar is over 170 C and would probably melt your finger!
Holding the cape gooseberries by their folded-back leaves, dip each one in turn into the hot, caramelised sugar and place on a cold plate. They don’t need to go in the fridge to set as this happens almost immediately.
Once the remaining caramelised sugar cools down, it will set like glass in the bottom of the pan. The easiest way to clean the pan is to fill it half full with water and bring to the boil on the hob.