Orange Juice Is The Key To A Perfect Honey-Brown Sugar Glaze

Ah, the glaze — that finishing touch that adds a mouth-watering shine to a dish, whether it's an entrée or a dessert, from meats to baked goods. Taking the time to create either a sweet or savory syrup for glazing is an effort that pays off with that extra burst of flavor it gives along with sealing in the food's moisture.

Because of its viscosity and sweetness that offers palatable floral notes, honey is frequently used to make glaze. When paired with brown sugar, the caramelization of the syrup adds depth to honey's flavor, making the honey-brown sugar glaze the perfect complement to savory dishes like ham, pork chops, meatloaf (glazing will also save you from the mistake of serving a dry meatloaf), and more. Even veggies taste better and feel more tender when coated with it, and pastries become more decadent when topped with this rich, sugary glaze. But if you want to impress others with your cooking, add orange juice the next time you whip up some homemade glazing syrup.

We tried this trifecta of ingredients to coat pan-seared duck breast, and the addition of orange juice to honey and brown sugar provided an acidity that countered the meat's fattiness. It cut through its richness to let the meat's taste shine through. Plus, just like with any flavor pairing, the layering of floral and caramel sweetness with the zing of citrus awakens the taste buds, making them more receptive to savoring the other flavors in a dish.

Use freshly squeezed orange juice for optimum tartness

Pre-cooked ham usually comes with a glaze packet but it's better to make your own from scratch. Tasting Table's recipe for bourbon brown sugar glaze is easy to copy and already includes orange juice in its list of ingredients. (Using booze for your homemade glaze is totally up to you.) You can use bottled OJ for convenience, though be aware that its sugar level can make your glazing syrup sweeter rather than tarter. Add spices, too, to deepen the flavor of your glaze. Smoked paprika, ground black pepper, ground ginger, and ground cloves can all be used for some nice heat.

You can prepare your glaze as you wait for your entrée to cook or your pastry to get baked since it'll take only a few minutes for the ingredients to reduce to a viscous consistency. You can also make a batch that you can store in the fridge. Leaving it overnight will actually enhance the glaze's flavor. Just remember to use it up within two weeks. 

You can also explore how using other types of citrus can change the tartness of your glaze. Try making it with lemon, pineapple, and calamansi, which is an essential ingredient in Filipino cuisine. Substitute brown sugar with coconut sugar as well if you want your glaze to have a richer caramel taste and color.