Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sorbets and Ices

Now that we've covered ice cream, let's talk about sorbet and ices.  These are more popular in Europe than in North America, but their popularity is slowly growing here as well for good reason.  Sorbet is a nice cooling dessert that isn't too heavy on the digestion at the end of a meal.  Unfortunately, most of the ones you'll find in the store are mostly sugar, but making this dessert at home is very easy.

Here are a couple of recipes to try when you want something different.

Coffee Granita

This is a favourite summer dessert in Italy, often served in restaurants as well as at home.  Granita is just as cooing as ice cream but a lot more refreshing because it isn't as heavy. It's a bit time consuming to make but well worth it for a special occasion.

Ingredients :

-  4 cups of strong brewed coffee
-  1/2 cup of maple syrup, honey or coconut sugar (add more or less to taste)
-  zest of one lemon
-  3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
-  sweetened whipped cream for serving

Directions :

-  Once you brew the coffee, add the rest of the ingredients, stir until well combined, then cover and refrigerate until well chilled - at least 3 hours and preferably overnight.
-  Pour the mixture into a shallow pan that will fit into your freezer.  Cover with foil and freeze until the mixture begins to harden around the edges and the surface is covered with a thin layer of ice. (about an hour.)
-  Remove and break up the ice with a fork, scraping it from the sides of the pan.  Mix the ice shards and liquid so they are evenly distributed, cover again, and freeze for another half an hour.
-  Repeat this process 3 or 4 more times until the granita is granular and icy throughout.  This will take about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
-  Serve immediately topped with whipped cream.  You can also garnish with a dusting of cocoa or with chocolate covered coffee beans.

If you are not going to serve this right away, transfer to a container and freeze for up to 24 hours.  This is best served on the day it's made, preferably within about 4 hours of freezing.

Berry Sorbet

Ingredients :

-  1 1/2 cups of water
-  1/2 cup of maple syrup, honey or coconut sugar
-  3 cups of fresh berries - strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or blackberries
-  3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions :

-  In a heavy saucepan, combine the water and sweetener and bring to a boil.  Cook stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is clear.
-  Add the berries and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat slightly and simmer, stirring constantly, until the berries are soft and beginning to dissolve.
-  Strain the berries through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on the berries with the back of a large spoon.  Discard the pulp and seeds.
-  Add the lemon juice to the syrup and stir to combine. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of liquid.
-  COver and refrigerate until chilled - at least 3 hours.
-  Pour the syrup into an ice cream maker and freeze according to directions.
-  Transfer the sorbet to a container and freeze until firm - at least a couple of hours.  This sorbet will always be soft so don't expect it to harden like regular ice cream.

Finally, sorbet doesn't have to be just for dessert.  Here is a great version to serve for a light summer lunch.

Tomato Sorbet

Ingredients :

-  4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
-  3/4 cup tomato juice
-  1/2 teaspoon olive oil
-  juice of 1 lime
-  1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
-  1/2 cup of water

Directions :

-  Blend all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.
-  Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding solids.
-  Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and freeze in an ice cream maker as directed.
-  Serve over sliced avocado and garnish with lime wedges.

I have also used my gazpacho recipe to make a wonderful, very filling sorbet.  Avocado slices are the perfect accompaniment to this.

Sorbet, whether sweet or savoury, is the perfect food for a sweltering hot summer day.

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