Just for kicks, what would you make for a holiday dessert if pie wasn’t an option? I threw that question out to my Facebook friends before Thanksgiving and, just to be mean, I also forbade bread pudding. Once we got past some initial protestations, a flood of interesting responses rolled in that clearly got everyone excited about the holiday table. I don’t mean to suggest you really can’t serve pie or bread pudding, but thinking beyond them is a fun way to get the creative juices flowing. Turkey and side dishes are often shackled by tradition, but the dessert course is an open playing field that begs for new additions. My friends were all over the map with suggestions like custard, pots de crème, cheesecakes (pumpkin being the frontrunner) and fruit crumbles. A hometown friend said nuts and Port, and a couple of folks tossed out sorbet. Sorbet seemed like a great place to start fiddling around, and the kumquats ripening in my backyard were perfect fodder. This is easy and you can make it ahead. Oh, and it does not require a sorbet or ice cream maker. Long live simplicity.
Kumquat Honey Sorbet
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 cups (1 pint) ripe kumquats, plus 3-4 few extra
1 tablespoon honey
Fresh mint and candied kumquats for garnish
Slice kumquats in half across the middle and remove seeds. Add to a food processor and pulse until pureed. Scrape into a medium size bowl. Add honey and simple syrup, which should be room temperature or cool. Pour mixture into an 8×8 glass pan and freeze for a few hours, until mostly firm but not quite set. Working in batches, run the nearly frozen mixture through a blender or food processor. The color will mellow and the consistency will become creamier. Spoon back into glass pan and refreeze a few hours until firm. When ready to serve, allow sorbet to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Scoop into a pretty glass and serve with fresh mint and candied kumquats.
Bring 1 cup water to boil. Turn off heat and add ½ cup sugar. Whisk vigorously. Slice the extra kumquats crosswise into thin slices – as many as you need for garnish. Remove seeds. Drop into warm simple syrup in saucepan and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. When ready, garnish sorbet.