Tag Archives: sorbet

Granita di Mandorle (Almond Sorbet)

A few weeks ago at the Couleur Café festival in Brussels, as we were leaving at some silly hour of the morning, I spied an artisanal ice-cream stand by the exit. It was still very warm at that time (of the morning!), so we grabbed a cone for the walk home. My friend Heinrich got excited about the lait d’amandes flavour, so I took one too. It was a creamy ice-cream, but still, the almond flavour was superb. Aromatic, delicate and surprisingly refreshing.

Thinking about this, I reasoned that I should be able to make a successful almond-based sorbet. Indeed, making it into a sorbet rather than an ice-cream should enhance the almond taste. A little research via Google revealed that almond sorbet is a specialty of Sicily, where it is called granita di mandorle, and often served with a piece of fresh brioche bread.

Now, the proper way to make this would involve tracking down good-quality almonds, grinding them at home, then preparing some sort of sugar syrup to cook the chopped nuts in order to extract their delicate flavour and aroma. And one day, when I have the time, inclination and someone to clean up after me, I might try that, but I opted to take a shortcut. I happened to have a bottle of orgeat syrup in the house, so I decided that make a sorbet using that instead. The flavour is probably not as delicate or authentic, but it was much quicker and easier. Hey, we’re all busy people!

The brand of orgeat syrup I used, Monin, was quite sweet, so I just added a mixture of semi-skimmed milk and water until I was happy with the flavour, erring on the slightly-too-sweet side (given that sweetness is dulled by freezing). I also went through the process of heating and briefly boiling the mixture to sterilise the milk. I don’t know if this was necessary, but it didn’t seem to affect the end result. However, if you are making this to eat quite soon afterwards, you could just mix everything up, skip the cooking, and put straight into the machine (*).

The flavour? It was amazing! It was like snow married with sweet almonds. Feather-light, translucent, and amazing. It is a complete contrast to lemon sorbet, as the almond version is sweet, silky and aromatic. Lemon would wake you up, whereas this would send you off into a gentle slumber on a warm afternoon. I think I am even inspired to pick up some decent almonds when I’m on holiday in Italy and try making the real deal. In the meantime, this version is more than sufficient.

(*) I’ve made it again since, and I can confirm you can skip the cooking stage if you want, and still have great results.

For 1 litre of almond sorbet:

• 300ml orgeat syrup
• 400ml semi-skimmed milk
• 300ml water (use more or less according to taste)
• 1 tablespoon almond liqueur (Amaretto)

Place the orgeat syrup, milk and water in a pan. Bring to the boil, cook for 30 seconds, then allow to cool completely.

Add the almond liqueur, mix well, and freeze the mixture. Serve with crisp biscuits or a slice of fresh brioche.

Worth making? I am really happy with the recipe. The use of the syrup makes it super-easy to prepare, and the result is light and fresh with a pronounced almond flavour. I will happily make this again, as it results is quite a sophisticated-tasting sorbet. One for the adults rather than the kids – not that youngsters won’t enjoy it, but adults will just be able to appreciate it a little bit more.

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Lemon Sorbet

More frozen stuff? Can you tell that I am still excited about my new ice-cream machine? You’d be right.

Today, it’s lemon time. Everyone has that one flavour they love and almost always choose when given a choice (at least in the summer). You might flirt with other flavours from time to time, but you always come back to that favourite. For me, I adore lemon sorbet. I like it to be fresh and zingy, sour, tart and lip-smackingly lemony. I have tried lemon ice-cream, but I always find it a bit of a poor substitute for sorbet. Lemon juice lends itself to cleanness and freshness, which is dulled when you try to make it using cream or milk. I could see how you could make a frozen lemon yoghurt, but if you’re after something sharp, sorbet is so simple and ticks all the boxes. Any now I can make my own!

In this recipe, I wanted the flavour of the lemons to really come out. I got hold of some beautiful fresh lemons, and started off by zesting them into a saucepan – the idea was that this would get the zest as well as some of their essential oils. I infused the zest with the sugar syrup, allowed it to steep, then added the lemon juice at the end. I also tried to decrease the amount of sugar – this amount of liquid would usually take 500g sugar, but I managed to get it down successfully to 350g. Sweet, but not too sweet.

I think using the lemon zest made a real difference – the syrup took on a light yellow colour, and there was a definite additional sharpness rather than just the tartness of the lemon. In the end, the colour did not really impact on the final result – it was a snowy white colour, but the stong taste of lemon was clearly there. All in all, I was really happy with this.

I love this sorbet as it is, but if you are looking for ways to jazz it up, you can try adding a handful of another aromatic herb to the hot syrup – mint, verbena, rosemary…or take the boozy route and top off with a shot of ice-cold limoncello or vodka.

For 1 litre of lemon sorbet:

• 250ml lemon juice
• 300g white sugar
• 1 teaspoon liquid glucose
• 750ml water

Grate the zest of each lemon into a saucepan. Extract the juice and keep it in a separate bowl. Keep going until you have 250ml of lemon juice.

Add the sugar, water and glucose to the saucepan, and slowly bring to the boil. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the lemon juice, stir well, cover and allow to cool.

Strain the cooled mixture to remove the peel. Freeze the sorbet in an ice-cream machine.

Worth making? This sorbet is incredibly easy – if you are in a rush, or prefer a milder lemon flavour, you can omit the zest, and just combine sugar, water and lemon juice. I know this is getting repetitive, but I will also be making a lot more of this over the summer!

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Filed under Les saveurs de l’été, Recipe, Sweet Things

Les saveurs de l’été – Strawberry Sorbet

For many years, I have coveted an ice-cream machine. I could have settled for one of those things you stick in the freezer, then remove and churn manually or get a little clip-on motor. But no, I wanted the serious thing, one that has a built-in freezer and makes lots of noise. Then, last week, I finally got one. Agonisingly, I had a few things to do and had to wait three long days to try it out. I think part of the fun of a new gadget is getting it home and using it right away. Anyway, my to-do list cleared, I spent all of Sunday trying it out.

To start with, I made a champagne sorbet. Rather unusually, I had half a bottle in the fridge (I can assure you that “left-over champagne” is a rare occurrence in this house). The result was lovely. Smooth, light and quite boozy. In fact, I think I ate too much of it without thinking how much alcohol it contained.

Satisfied that the machine worked, I got a little more serious and made a proper fruit sorbet using fresh English strawberries. I looked for small, bright red fruit, as the little berries are sweeter and more flavoursome than the giant varieties that are all talk and no action. Indeed, with strawberries, the smaller, the better. Think about wild strawberries – tiny, a lot of work to pick, but they have an amazing flavour.

I made a sorbet as I actually prefer them to ice-cream. The flavour is fresher and lighter, and more suited to summer. Strawberry is, in my view, one of the classics and really does bring a little of the summer sun with it.

The recipe I used is really simple – make a sugar syrup, puree the strawberries, combine, chill in the fridge, then pop into ice-cream maker. After the machine did its thing (I left it in another room due to the noise), I got to try an utterly sublime result. The sorbet is silky-smooth, with little bursts of intense strawberry flavour. The flavour was fantastic and the colour was stunning – a vivid, natural pink colour.

It’s going to be a good summer. I just wonder how many frozen treats we can all take? We’ll find out.

To make just under 2 litres of sorbet:

• 720ml strawberry puree (around 800g of whole strawberries)
• 200g white sugar (or less, to taste)
• 120ml water
• juice of 1 lemon
• teaspoon of liquid glucose

Put the sugar, water, lemon juice and glucose into a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then allow to cool.

In the meantime, rinse the strawberries. Remove the stalks and hulls (if necessary), then puree. You can strain if you want to remove the seeds, but I didn’t and the result was great. Combine the puree and the syrup, and allow to chill in the fridge.

Place the mixture into your ice-cream maker and process until frozen.

Worth making? Yes! This is one of the best sorbets I have ever had. The flavour is fresh, bright and intense. This is really worth trying, as it knocks a lot of commercial sorbets out of the water. I think I’ll be making this a lot over the summer months.

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