Hello from Oregon! T-Hubs and I are on the coast, enjoying our belated honeymoon together and wishing it would never end. Fresh ocean air, sand between our toes, and plenty of fresh seafood will do us good! While we're away, I've asked my friend Carey from Reclaiming Provincial if she would take over for me. I was first drawn to Carey's blog by her stunning photography, and was won over all the more by her quirky personality, easy writing style, and incredible flavor combinations. It hardly needs to be said how excited I was when she agreed to do a guest post, and presented me with these gorgeous popsicles. I have never tried Lillet before, but Carey jumped right into the spirit of FAK Fridays and did a great job enlightening me. Plus she has some awesome tips for picking out the perfect cantaloupe, which is a must for this recipe!
When Willow mentioned that she was heading off on a belated honeymoon, my thoughts immediately went to things that were both summery and celebratory. I settled on popsicles while we were in the midst of a rather oppressive heat wave, and this flavor combination after buying a particularly delicious cantaloupe.
Cantaloupe is actually one of my favorite melons. This might sound a little weird, but I fell in love with it over a decade ago, when it was served to me as part of my breakfast on a flight to Germany. Maybe the excitement of traveling by myself for the first time influenced my taste buds, but I swear to you, that airplane melon was one of the best I’ve ever had. One of the problems with cantaloupe, however, is that anything less than perfectly ripe can taste pretty meh. To choose a ripe cantaloupe, you want to look for one that has a cream-colored rind underneath that mesh-like outer skin stuff. When you find one, push on the round indentation where the melon was once attached to the vine, then smell it. It should be a bit soft, and smell a whole lot like delicious cantaloupe. (Sometimes I feel like a weirdo smelling ALL the melons at the store, and I have to tell myself that I probably look hip and knowledgeable to other people.)
Now, I love a good boozy popsicle as much as the next person, but some of them can be a bit finicky to eat, being extra melty and messy due to the amount of alcohol. That is not the case with these guys. The low alcohol % of Lillet keeps them at near-perfect popsicle consistency, while adding herbal notes and a slight wine-y tang.
For those of you that are not familiar with Lillet, here’s the basic run-down. Lillet is an aperitif that is made from a blend of wines and citrus liqueur. It comes in Blanc, Rouge, and Rose varieties. It was originally manufactured under the name Kina Lillet and made with the addition of cinchona bark (known best as the source of bitterness and quinine in tonic water), but was reformulated in the late ’80s with the cinchona removed, making it a lighter and less bitter beverage. It is meant to be served chilled, so it only seemed natural to add it to a frozen treat.
I’ve used the Blanc here as it has that good white wine punchiness to it, but the Rose would work nicely as well. Cocchi Americano would also be a good substitute (as it is actually considered to be near in flavor to the original Kina Lillet). Basil and mint contribute to the herbal notes of the wine and add freshness, which works very well against the flavor of the cantaloupe (which can be a rather musky melon on its own). All in all, they make for a refreshing summer treat.
Oh! And if you’d like to make them non-boozy, feel free to leave out the Lillet and add another beverage instead, perhaps something with a lemon, lime, or even a ginger base. (I would personally suggest Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade if you can find it, as I think the flavors would complement the cantaloupe very well.)
Happy honeymooning to Willow and T-Hubs!
Cantaloupe, Basil, & Lillet Popsicles
makes: around 10 pops
1 medium cantaloupe (approx. 2 lbs.), peeled, seeded, and diced
1 cup of sugar
3 basil leaves and 3 mint leaves (medium sized), roughly chopped
1/4 cup of Lillet Blanc (or other beverage of your choice)
Combine cantaloupe, sugar, and herbs in a large shallow bowl. Toss to coat, then cover and let sit for about 15 minutes. Macerate the fruit, then let sit for another 15 minutes.
Add fruit mixture and Lillet to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze accordingly.
Recipe and photos by Carey @ www.reclaimingprovincial.com