You rarely see those two words together, “healthy” and “holiday”. Don’t get me wrong, I love butter and cream and most things fatty and I don’t skimp on the chocolate either, but it is nice to find a refreshingly light dessert that also has wow factor to go with it. These little bursts of sunshine come from Martha Stewart’s December Living, the mysterious magazine subscription I started receiving after admitting to stealing a recipe out of one at my hairdressers. No one has come forward to admit sending it to me yet, anyone? Anyway, these looked so interesting, I had to give them a try. The recipe calls it “Clementine Granita”, but I used mandarins and it worked out well and I didn’t need the extra 12 for juicing that the recipe called for. It also suggests 3 per person and I only made enough for 1-2 per person because I was feeding a big group and it was just fine. It’s a lot of scooping if you have a big party, so know that you can go with smaller portions. I made these the day ahead of serving and then put them together when it was dessert time fairly quickly with a 5 minute refreeze before serving. I don’t think I’ll make them for my Christmas feast, but they’re perfect for one of those in between special dinners where everyone can use a break from cookies and rich desserts, but still want to feel spoiled.
Serves 4-6, makes 12 servings
Active time-30 minutes, but you need at least 3 hours to freeze or up to overnight
If you don’t want to juice enough clementines to make the 2 cups juice needed, you can use orange juice to make up the difference. When I used mandarins, I only needed 1/4 cup orange juice to make up my 2 cups without juicing any extra above the original 12 and the flavor was brilliant.
12 clementines or mandarins (if you use clementines, you may need 12 more for juicing, with the mandarins, I had almost enough juice without the extras.)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 slice (1/2 inch) peeled fresh ginger
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Slice the top 1/2 inch off each clementine/mandarin and set aside. Cut around flesh and scoop out into a sieve set over a bowl. Reserve skins and be careful not to tear them. Press flesh to extract juice-it worked best to use my hands for this, messy but satisfying! Squeeze in juice from the tops as well. Juice more clementines or mandarins to make up 2 cups or add orange juice as needed.
Moisten skins with water or juice and roll them in 1/4 cup of the sugar to coat. This is just for decoration, so they don’t need to be perfect. It just adds a little sparkle to the dish. Freeze until solid, about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, bring remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the water and ginger to a boil in a saucepan, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Discard ginger and stir in the 2 cups juice and the lemon juice. Transfer to a non-reactive 8-inch square baking dish and freeze until solid, about 3 hours. This can all be left in freezer overnight until you’re ready to serve.