Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sorta Sorbet

I love sweets. So when someone gives me blackberries in exchange for muffins (of Muffins Madness fame), I get pretty excited. There was no way I could eat all those blackberries before they went fuzzy, so I had to figure what I could do to best utilize them. Time for sorbet!

When I don’t know how to make something the Splendid Table is one of my main go-to resources. I know the information and recipes will have been tested, and also it’s a creative and down-to-earth. Simple and straightforward is good, and that’s what I get at the Splendid Table. (This isn’t a paid advertisement by the way, I’m a public radio member so I pay them, they unfortunately, don’t pay me.)

In the case of the blackberries Hungry Woman’s Simple Sorbet pretty well stood up and said “Make me because my name explicitly describes what you are and what you want to eat.” I couldn’t argue with that logic so away went the blackberries into the freezer.

If you want to know a little trick to freeze berries so they don’t form one large berry mass follow these directions. Wash them good, dry them off, and put them on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer. This way all your berries freeze individually, so when the time comes to make your sortbet you have nice individual berries to utilize. If you’re not going to to use the berries right away, after they’re good and frozen just pour them into a zipper bag continue utilizing that space for such important tasks as frosting beer mugs. As an aside, the cookie sheet technique works well for freezing veggies and homemade meatballs as well.

The recipe infinitely improvisational. I actually didn’t have the amount of fruit called for, and I was lazy and not about to get more. All you have to do is adjust the amounts of the other ingredients slightly, since there’s not much of them it should be pretty easy. Pay particular attention to the amount of salt though. Salt lifts up flavors and in a sweet dish you shouldn’t be able to taste the salt. Inadvertently I did not proportionally decrease the amount of salt I put in my sorbet, so instead of a pinch, my sorbet had a relative dash of salt. This made for a salty sweet treat, which is what my husband likes, but not me.

Despite the saltiness this was an excellent (might I say guilt-free?) dessert. You can use any fruit you have on hand, cut out the sugar, change out the flavorings, and save many a fresh fruit from having a green, fuzzy end. I most like at the end of the recipe is that it calls not for putting the sorbet in bowls, but in teacups or wine glasses. We have these tiny purple wineglasses that never get used because a laughably small amount of wine fits in them. But they’re an heirloom and cute, so I haven’t gotten rid of them. Putting the sorbet in these little wineglasses cheered me up so much that I didn’t mind this recipe going from down-to-earth to slightly fancy.

Here’s the recipe from the Splendid Table website:

Hungry Woman’s Simple Sorbet
© 2005 Lynne Rossetto Kasper. All rights reserved.

This cross between a fruit ice and a sorbet sidesteps the usual sorbet formula of sugar syrup and smoothing out in an ice cream machine. It's crumblier and more rustic than a sorbet, and takes 3 minutes in the food processor.

The whole idea here is how to make even mediocre frozen supermarket fruit taste very fine, and how to make great frozen fruit even better. All you need are my flavor boosters: almond extract, salt and lemon. Almond lifts fruit flavor as does salt and citrus. Consider them insurance policies.
  • 1 14-ounce bag frozen peaches, or other fruit, or 41/2 to 5 cups home-frozen fruit chunks
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
  • Juice of half a small lemon

1. Turn fruit into a food processor. Add other ingredients and puree. Taste for sweetness and balance, adding more sugar or extract as needed.
2. Immediately pack into teacups or wine glasses. Top with shavings of fresh ginger, or mint, or whipped cream. Serve very cold.

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