Believe it or not, the temperatures around here have been creeping up into the 70’s the past several days. That sure is a far cry from the arctic blasts we were getting a mere few weeks ago! Who knows how long it will last, though. One thing I’ve learned about living in Florida is that our Winter weather can be unpredictable. It could be 80 degrees one day and 50 the next. While I had a window of opportunity, I hauled out my ice cream machine to make this light and refreshing Honeybell Sherbet.
What are Honeybells? I’m glad you asked!
A Honeybell is a specific hybrid citrus fruit that is made by crossing the “Duncan” grapefruit and the “Darcy” tangerine, (a mandarin orange). It was developed in Florida by the United States Department of Agriculture in the early twentieth century. The Honeybell combines the sweetness of the mandarin with the tart flavors of the grapefruit. It has a vibrant red-orange color and is only available from late December through February. You may be familiar with this fruit by its original name, “Minneola”. The name was changed as a marketing gimmick designed to persuade more people to try them, particularly tourists. I suppose Honeybell does sound a bit more glamorous than Minneola does. And, they are kinda, sorta bell-shaped. Whatever. One thing they definitely are is exceptionally sweet and juicy – perfect for granite, sorbets and sherbets.
We have a new Farmers Market here in town that is located just about a mile from my house. It’s not terribly big, but each week a few more new vendors show up. One of the best things about it is that it takes place on Wednesday afternoons. No more getting up at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings! Plus, there is plenty of parking, so no more fights with pushy little old ladies over parking spaces! I try to head over there each Wednesday around noon time to do a little shopping, have a little lunch and pick up a bag of fresh, hot, homemade doughnuts to take home. (Those doughnuts are TO.DIE.FOR! I’m soooo planning a whole post about them!)
On my last excursion, one of the grove stands had a ton of gorgeous Honeybells. I greedily grabbed about a dozen, with visions of scrumptious, citrus-y baked goods dancing in my head. After eating a few out of hand, some were earmarked for muffins. With the weather warming up, I thought it would be nice to turn a few into something cold and slushy. While looking for a sorbet recipe, I found a super easy recipe for orange sherbet from Alton Brown that I liked. Sherbet is a richer, creamier cousin to sorbet. In fact, the only real difference between them is that a sherbet is made with milk. I immediately thought of Creamsicles. Oooh! I LOVE Creamsicles! I looked no further.
I pretty much followed Alton’s recipe exactly, except that I swapped out the orange juice for…Honeybell juice, of course! Preparing the base for this sherbet literally took me less than FIVE minutes. Since the ingredients were already cold, the base hardly needed any chilling time at all.
I scraped out the insides of the Honeybell rinds and used them as little serving cups for the sherbet. I also topped them with little candied Honeybell curls. Don’t they look cute?
My Honeybell sherbet was not only pretty to look at; it was so delicious too! If you can get your hands on some of these little gems, go for it and make your own little bowls of sunshine. Even if you don’t make sherbet with them, you won’t be disappointed. But, hurry! They’ll only be around for a few more weeks.
adapted from Alton Brown
8 ounces sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated Honeybell zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups freshly squeezed Honeybell juice, (approximately 5-6 Honeybells)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups very cold whole milk
1. In the bowl of a food processor combine all of the ingredients except the milk and process until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and whisk in the milk. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour.
2. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. It should be the consistency of soft serve ice cream. Transfer to an airtight plastic container and freeze until firm.
Makes 1 quart.