Oh hey, we have an ice cream maker. ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

25 February 2008

Oh hey, we have an ice cream maker.

This weekend our friend Chrissy came up to hang out. Usually in this situation we go out to Cafe Yulong and eat delicious hand-pulled spinach noodles, ma po tofu, many potstickers, and copious tea. During or around dinner we get an idea for the best dessert ever. Then, on the way home, we go to the store to acquire dessert ingredients and wine. In this case, the dessert of choice was grapefruit sorbet.

Fruit sorbets are so easy it's unbelievable: they're essentially made from sweetened juice. You don't even necessarily need an ice cream machine, as long as you're ok with a slightly different texture in the finished product. That was good, since our machine bowl turned out not to have been in the freezer long enough to work. So instead we finished freezing the sorbet business in a plain container, then used a fork to tear it into a pile of snow-coney crumbles. We used grapefruit, but you could clearly do this with practically any fruit for which you have a reasonable fresh or juice supply. Just adjust any necessary acid content with some lemon or lime, and you're set.

You really want this stuff in August, but February in California is close enough.

Grapefruit sorbet

good grapefruit juice
a good grapefruit (or several)

First, make a simple syrup. Put maybe half a cup of water in a pot, set it over high heat, and bring it to a simmer. Then start throwing in spoonfuls of sugar, stirring well to dissolve. You can make the syrup as saturated as you want; we used around 1/3 to 1/2 cup of brown sugar, which produced a dark brown highly fragrant syrup. It worked well to sweeten the sorbet, but didn't add any undue molasses flavor. I would probably use a honey-based syrup for grapefruit in the future.

When the sugar is all dissolved, the syrup is done; set it aside to cool.

Cut and juice as many grapefruits as you want, straining out the seeds and any unwanted pulp. We used one. I had originally thought to get all the juice from fruit, which would probably have required at least six or so grapefruit. Using good straight uncut juice works just fine. I would still add juice from at least one fresh grapefruit (or another citrus, if you want to add other flavors) to get the sorbet as intense as possible.

Mix your squeezed juice and pulp with standard juice to make about six cups of liquid. Then add simple syrup to sweeten as much as you like. We didn't measure at all; just taste the mix to see if it's good to your palate.

Cool the liquid completely.

Now you have a choice. You can put the business in an ice cream machine and process it until done, or you can pour it into containers and freeze it as-is, occasionally stirring the freezing contents with a fork. The machine will clearly produce a more standard smooth sorbet, while the container method will make an icier end product. Both will taste great. Actually, I seem to remember a third freezer method that John Thorne wrote about: you can freeze it in a ziplock bag, then take the bag out the the freezer and mush it about every once in a while.

When it's frozen, eat it for dessert. Maybe throw some crushed and minced mint leaves over it, or half a cup of dry white wine. Or drizzle some melted chocolate over it and eat it like that. Or have it as a palate cleanser between course seven and eight of your grand ridiculous 12-course dinner party.

We ended up leaving our business in the freezer overnight and eating it for brunch dessert the next morning. It's pretty much frozen juice anyway. A good brunch requires citrus.

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