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Pink Grapefruit with Burnt Honey Custard

Drape honey and spice cream over caramel-marinated juicy pink fruit and put it under the broiler until it’s warm and browned for an absolutely delicious surprise of a dessert!  A wealth of winter grapefruit inspired this pink grapefruit with burnt honey custard.

Pink Grapefruit with Burnt Honey Custard

First, the pale pink citrus marinates in a simple caramel syrup for a couple hours or even overnight. Then whisk up a five-spice pastry cream with milk, honey and eggs just before you need it, or make it the day ahead. When you’re ready to serve, arrange the marinated grapefruit sections in a dish, swath the fruit with the cream, and do the brûlée thing to blister the custard to golden burnt. Soooo good!

caramel grapefruit sections ready in dish for the Honey Custard Brulée

In southern Baja Mexico, where we’ve been spending our winters, citrus trees hang heavy with blushing pink grapefruits so sweet and juicy you have to eat them over the sink. That grapefruit abundance inspired this dessert.

grapefruit hanging from tree and a bin of whole Pink Grapefruit

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Pink grapefruit with burnt honey custard comes from a memory of our June wedding rehearsal dinner. For dessert that night we were served caramel marinated oranges with burnt vanilla custard. I remember it as a simple and elegant treat.

Here’s my pink grapefruit rendition. In this recipe, the vanilla custard is made with honey instead of sugar, and also softly perfumed with Chinese five spices, the classic blend of cinnamon, star anise, fennel, ginger, cloves, white pepper and licorice root.

Arrange your marinated grapefruit sections in one shallow platter, or divide them among individual serving dishes, (affiliate link) like at our rehearsal dinner. For crunch, finish with a sprinkle of toasted almonds or pistachio, and maybe pomegranate arils for color and flavor pop.

If you want a little something more, serve this gratin along with a simple cookie, maybe cinnamon snickerdoodles.

More recipes with citrus:

About Arrowroot vs. Cornstarch:

  • Arrowroot is completely tasteless and gluten-free. I use the white arrowroot powder made from a tropical root plant whenever a recipe calls for cornstarch. As a thickener, say in sauces, arrowroot becomes clear when cooked. It can be used one-for-one in place of cornstarch.
  • If you avoid genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) know that almost ALL cornstarch comes from corn that has been genetically engineered.
Pink Grapefruit with Burnt Honey Custard

The December after our June wedding, I found myself arranging caramel-y orange sections in little dishes for gratin of oranges ‘Girardet’ at the same restaurant as our rehearsal dinner. A few years later I wrote Chocolate Snowball: and Other Fabulous Pasties from Deer Valley Resort, (affiliate link) and of course our wedding dessert went in the cookbook!

Other possibilities and variations of grapefruit gratin:

  • Many other fruits partner nicely with the broiled sauce. If it’s not citrus season, feature summer peaches or autumn pears. Of course you could make this recipe with oranges, like the original.
  • Instead of fussing with the broiler for gratin brulée, you can spoon warm custard and caramelized fruit over slices of buttery pound cake. 
  • Love the idea of this Yogurt Brûlée with Winter Fruit by Completely Delicious.
  • My mom used to serve grapefuit cut in half with a broiled topping of brown sugar, much like this recipe for Broiled Grapefruit recipe from Cookie and Kate.

cutting grapefruit

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This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase products via my links, it doesn’t cost you anything and I earn a tiny commission, which helps me continue to provide free content here on Letty’s Kitchen. Thank you!!

If you make this recipe and love it, please consider leaving a blog post comment. Your comments help other readers learn more about the recipe. If you’d also give the recipe a ✮✮✮✮✮ rating, I’d be delighted!

*** Nutrition information is meany to be an estimate only. The numbers will vary based on the quantity consumed, brands used and substitutions that are made.


  • I LOVE that you use Chinese five spice in your custard!! Everything about this dessert sounds incredible. And I’ve been wanting to try arrowroot instead of cornstarch but wasn’t sure about proportions so I’m glad to see that they’re interchangeable! Reply · 11 January, 2016

    • Becky,
      I always use arrowroot instead of cornstarch. Nutrition from the root vs a corn product–easy decision for me. Arrowroot used to be difficult to find, but has become more available because so many people are trying to lower the gluten in their diet. Reply · 11 January, 2016

  • This is such a unique way to enjoy grapefruit! This is such an elegant dessert, and I can’t wait to try it! Reply · 11 January, 2016

    • Thanks Marcie–I hope you love citrus gratin-style as much as I do! Reply · 11 January, 2016

  • I’m loving all the citrus recipes this month! I’m so inspired! Your custard sounds incredible! Reply · 11 January, 2016

  • Deb

    I’m making this for our wine dinner club. Can you suggest a wine pairing? Thanks Reply · 13 January, 2016

    • Hi Deb,
      I have haven’t tried this dessert with wine! But given that the fruit is marinated in caramel and the custard is honey-sweetened, I am thinking a Viogner or a Reisling, something not too dry. You might want to go to your wine store and ask for a recommendation after describing the flavors. Let me know how it goes and what you choose. Reply · 13 January, 2016

  • Gorgeous!! Reply · 16 January, 2016

  • Such a lovely use of grapefruit in a dessert. Reply · 16 January, 2016

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