This is my take on classic Melba sauce, that exquisite raspberry sauce that famed French chef Auguste Escoffier whipped up for his favorite opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba.
The original sauce is a heady mixture of raspberries, current jelly, sugar, and cornstarch. In this version, I’ve done away with the current jelly and the cornstarch (a generous amount of sugar helps thicken the sauce as it reduces), and added a little orange juice. It’s my favorite thing to drizzle over cheesecake. I’m also totally guilty of eating it straight, with a spoon.
If you can, make this sauce with fresh raspberries and freshly squeezed orange juice. The brightness and acidity of the orange juice will help to bring out that luscious raspberry flavor.
If you use frozen raspberries, you may need to tinker around with the timing. Frozen berries will have more water than fresh, so you may need to simmer it longer to get it to thicken up.
Orange Melba Sauce: A note on timing (a.k.a. make it ahead)
This sauce takes almost no time to put together. That said, make it a few hours before you want to serve it because it needs to cool completely to finish thickening up.
In a pinch, you could spread it in a shallow (heatproof & freezer safe) dish and stick it in the freezer to try to cool it faster…just keep an eye on it if you do this.
Other things to do with Orange Melba Sauce
- Drizzle it over vanilla ice cream
- Serve with a fat stack of fresh Belgium waffles or pancakes
- Pour it over thick slices of pound cake and finish with fresh whipped cream
- Shake a little up with a big hunk of ice, a few shots of vodka, and some fresh lime juice for a fabulous, juicy cocktail (or pour a little in the bottom of a flute and fill with your favorite champagne or prosecco)
This is good stuff. You get the idea.
Orange Melba Sauce
12 oz. fresh raspberries
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
Makes about 1 cup
Combine raspberries, orange juice, and sugar
Grab your raspberries. Sort through them and toss any that look suspect. Put them in a medium-sized pot.
Pour in the orange juice.
Add the sugar. Give the pot a stir.
Cook the melba sauce
Turn your stove on to medium-high heat and bring the mixture up to a boil, stirring occasionally.
When the mixture boils, stir it constantly. After a minute or two, start to smoosh the berries against the side of the pot to break them down.
Boil like this for a few more minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and syrupy. (It should coat the back of a spoon.)
Give the sauce a taste before you strain it. If it’s too sweet for you, add a little more orange juice (or even some lemon juice) and cook until thick again.
Strain and cool the orange melba sauce
When it’s nice and thick, pour the mixture through a strainer set over a bowl.
Stir the mixture in the strainer with a spoon to help push it through.
The sauce should be thick and glossy.
Let the sauce cool to room temperature, then pop it into the fridge to chill it completely. It will continue to thicken up as it cools.
Serve and enjoy!
(Click here to see the cheesecake.)