CARAMEL-COATED GROUND CHERRIES
about 10 ground cherries
100 ml sugar
60 ml water
Place the sugar and water in a tiny saucepan. Heat the mixture slowly, stirring until the sugar has dissolved completely. Bring the mixture to the boil and cook briskly on medium-high heat, until it has turned into a light amber colour (light caramel). Do not stir the mixture during boiling.
Watch the sugar syrup carefully towards the end of boiling as soon as it starts to caramelize (brown), it will also burn easily. You may plunge the bottom of the saucepan briefly into cold water to stop further cooking.
If the caramel cools and stiffens too quickly, rewarm it by returning the saucepan briefly on the hot stove.
While the syrup is boiling, lightly grease a piece of baking parchment with butter. Peel back the papery leaves of the ground cherries and twist them at the base. Do it gently, so that the leaves will not come off.
Holding the berries from their leaves, dip them in the hot caramel, leaving the leaves uncoated. Take care not to burn your fingers, the hot caramel burns badly. Let the excess caramel drip off and place the berries upright on the greased baking parchment to set.
Serve the berries on the same day, the caramel coating will start to melt and soften if the berries are stored longer.
You may serve the berries as a part of a petit four assortment with coffee or tea, or use them to garnish cakes, pies, ice cream and other desserts.
Recipe source: "Caramel-coated physalis", Treuille, Eric, and Jeni Wright (1997) Le Cordon Bleu: Complete Cooking Techniques. New York: William Morrow & Co.