caramelized drinks! score! ::::
Often reserved for the Thanksgiving turkey or the vodka-marinated beef at Christmas dinner in prior generations, caramelized food is popular in my generation’s cuisine, especially fruits. I often see summer stone fruit roasted or grilled (like my pluots), and even some grilled fresh pineapple appears to accompany some salty ham. Brown is good, in the right context for fruit. It doesn’t always mean an overripe banana. It doesn’t mean a bruised apple. The browning of the sugars gives fruit my favorite flavor: caramel. It turns a clean, sweet dish into one with more depth, a “slow” sugar taste. My sister-in-law had once told me a mixologist friend had used caramelized limes as a drink garnish. I decided to turn that idea into into caramelized lime mojitos.
Caramel flavors usually conjure up images of wintry Christmas candy draped in robes of chocolate. For me, it is often connected to fresh fruit, and this is one of my favorite recipes. My elderflower mojito comes a very close second despite its lack of caramel and if I had to choose one over the other, it could depend on which bottle I randomly reach for first from the liquor cabinet. It’s equally hard for me to resist the floral elixir of elderflower over caramelized limes mashed up with some rum. This is the new normal for caramel. Get used to it!
- 2 to 3 cups fresh mint, lightly packed + 4-6 small sprigs for garnish
- ⅛ cup raw sugar + plus a little more for muddling
- 1 cup simple syrup*
- ¾ cup rum
- 6 limes, halved + 1 whole lime
- seltzer water
- Wash and dry mint, removing leaves from all except garnishing sprigs.
- Dip each lime half into sugar then sear sugared side on non-stick skillet. Lime pulp will brown and rinds will yellow. Watch carefully so melted sugar does not burn.
- Juice roasted limes. Reserve spent rinds (for garnish if you desire). I ended up with about 1 cup (200 ml) of juice
- Place 10-12 mint leaves into each glass, sprinkle with sugar and muddle to release mint oils. Don't overdo it; too vigorous a muddling can cause the mint to become bitter.
- In a separate pitcher, mix simple syrup, rum, lime juice. Pour into each glass with ice, leaving room at the top for a splash of seltzer. Top with a spent lime rind.