Arguably the most famous of South African stadium foods, naartjies (tangerines) have long been associated in this country with watching rugby matches. A bulging bag of naartjies (pronounced 'nar-chees') is what burly fans take along with them to watch their provincial side - or the famous Springboks - in action. To thwart no-alcohol rules, naartjies are sometimes spiked in advance, using a hypodermic syringe, with brandy, vodka, witblits or mampoer (potent moonshine, often made with peaches).
series of scrumptious soccer snacks would not be complete without a mention of this most delicious winter fruit.
Caramel is always tricky, and it doesn't like moisture, so there are three important points to bear in mind when making these. First, the fruit segments must be dried out overnight, which will allow excess surface moisture to evaporate, and make the skin slightly papery. Second, the segments must be dipped to only five-sixths of their length, so that the caramel comes nowhere close to the hole where the kebab stick has been pushed in. Finally, please note that the caramel remains hard for a maximum of 35 minutes (and I tested these at sea level, with relatively high humidity), after which it begins to soften.
This caramel does not set glass-hard, but cools to a nice crack with a tiny bit of chew. This recipe is adapted from a recipe for toffee apples from Inspired by Sugar by Lesley Faull (1965), which is one of the most treasured items in my collection of vintage cookbooks.
Caramel-Dipped Naartjies on Kebab Sticks
6 large naartjies [tangerines, clementines]
1 cup (250 ml) light brown sugar
2 Tbsp (30 ml) golden syrup [corn syrup]
1 Tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) water
Peel the naartjies and divide them into segments very carefully, making sure not to puncture their skins. Spread the segments on a large plate and place, uncovered, in the fridge overnight. Push a slim wooden kebab stick into the end of each segment.
Gently heat the caramel ingredients in heavy saucepan, stirring now and then until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook briskly, without stirring, until the caramel reaches 155°C . If you don't have a sugar thermometer, place a droplet of the caramel into iced water: it should snap cleanly in half. Remove the caramel from the heat.
Dip five-sixths of each segment into the caramel, avoiding the hole where the stick has punctured the flesh. Lean the sticks up against a plate or upturned box, and allow to dry. If the caramel becomes too thick during the dipping process, gently warm it over a low flame.
Serve within half an hour.
Makes about 40.
Try some of the other recipes from this series:
Mini Pita Breads with Spicy Meatballs and Hoummous
Mini Bunny Chow with Butter Chicken
Cape-Malay-Style Curried Lamb Kebabs with Apricots
Potato, Cheese and Chilli Phyllo Triangles
Steak Kebabs with a Monkey-Gland Dipping Sauce