5. July 2013 12:45
I'm a big fan of dishes that look really difficult and fancy but are actually absurdly easy. Sorbet is one of those dishes. Even the word sorbet sounds elegant and somehow exotic. Tell someone you're eating frozen sugar water and they'll scoff. Tell them it's sorbet, and they're impressed. Secret tip: they're the same thing!
All you need to make sorbet is water, sugar, and juice (ie: sugar water with vitamins). If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can freeze the mixture in a shallow pan and then break up the ice crystals with a fork every so often until the mixture has reached desired consistency (technically this is a granita, and you should use straight sugar instead of simple syrup or it may get kind of gloopy).
Do you really need an Ice Cream Maker?
I have been devoted to ice cream since I was a small child, but I always though an ice cream maker would go the way of the bread machine - I'd use it once, then never again. Then, I received a Donvier Ice Cream Maker as a gift a few years back and whoa was I wrong. Here's the real magic of an ice cream maker: once you know the capacity of the cylinder (mine is 1 qt/4 cups), you can literally put anything into it. No recipe needed. Pick up your favorite juice/sugar water from the store, measure out the needed volume, and in 30 min (ish) you've got a really impressive homemade dessert (for CHEAP). Some tips I've picked up along the way:
- Keep your cylinder in the freezer (and freeze for at least 24 hours between uses) so that its always ready to use.
- Chill your liquid mixture for as long as you can, preferably for at least 12 hours, so that it is as cold as it can be when you put it in the cylinder.
- If you're not using a recipe, add more sugar than you think you'd need. Cold foods desensitize your taste buds so you won't taste half the sugar you put into it once its frozen.
- The frozen cylinder kind of ice cream maker is instant dinner party/antsy kid entertainment. The mixture sits in the cylinder for 2-5min, then you turn the paddle and scrape off the frozen bits so that more liquid can reach the cold cylinder walls to be frozen, then you scrape that off 2-5min later, and the cycle continues. Put it in the middle of a circle and have folks take turns - make up a game to go with it! The clear top lets you watch the magic unfold and it makes a great conversation piece/learning experience.
Now, getting to the actual inspiration for this post: Lemon Herb Sorbet. I made it for a July 4th potluck last week and hot dog it was delicious. Everyone was impressed, even though they watched me make it! I used rosemary for mine, which was absolutely divine, but you can use whatever fresh herbs you have access to (caveat: choose an herb that will steep well - basil would pair great with lemon but won't steep well so wouldn't be the best choice here).
Lemon Herb Sorbet Recipe
(adapted from Joy of Cooking)
*Adjust water/sugar/lemon according to the capacity of your ice cream maker, if you are using one.
Large sprig of Rosemary, Thyme, Mint, or Lavendar
- Zest one of the lemons into long strips. Chop the strips into smaller pieces (you will be removing these later, so don't make them too small).
- Combine the water, lemon zest and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves (ie: make simple syrup). If you prefer a thicker syrup, let the mixture simmer for longer.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the herb sprig. Cover and let sit for 20-30min (depending on how strong you want the herb flavor to be).
- Juice all 4 lemons. Add juice to simple syrup mixture, cover, and let cool in refrigerator (for at least 1 hour - the colder the mixture is, the quicker it will set in the ice cream maker).
- Pour mixture into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.