Saturday, May 26, 2012
Apricot sorbet with maraschino; bittersweet chocolate sorbet with Cointreau.
Yesterday evening, a group of us repaired to Chez Elisson for a spot of after-dinner Desserty Goodness. I had cranked out a couple of batches of sorbet over the past several days and I wanted to see whether they passed muster... and besides, I like the coffee at my house way better than the stuff most local restaurants serve. And so coffee and sorbet it was.
“Sorbet,” of course, is a fancy-pants Frenchified way of saying “sherbet.” It also implies that there is no dairy at all in the frozen concoction: sherbet contains a small amount, usually enough to bring the butterfat content up to 1-2%.
I make frozen desserts every so often, but most of my efforts to date have been in the ice cream vein. My buddy Gary, however, has shown himself to be a champion sorbet maker over the past few months, and it is from him that I have developed an appreciation for the intense flavors possible in a frozen dessert absent the muting effects of dairy. His pear sorbet is a knockout and his raspberry is incomparable... but in my not-so-humble opinion, neither of ’em hold a candle to his chocolate sorbet. Bittersweet, powerfully chocolatey, powerfully addictive, it is a confection best appreciated by the adult palate. Flavor-wise, it beats your typical chocolate ice cream like a red-headed stepchild.
After having tasted Gary’s version, making my own chocolate sorbet was potentially a fool’s errand. But I was curious to see what adding a touch of Cointreau, with its bitter orange flavor notes, would do to it. As it happens, it creates a tasty alternative. Which one’s better? Flip a coin, willya?
I also had bought a metric assload of apricots at Costco last week, Gawd only knows why. The problem with apricots, of course, is that their window of perfect ripeness is extremely narrow: One day they’re hard as little orange golf balls, the next they’re vile mush. The trick is to catch them during that six-hour period when they are at the peak of ripeness - but eating two pounds of apricots in six hours is a bit much, even for a veteran trencherman like me.
And so, apricot sorbet to the rescue. You cook the suckers down, and suddenly all that wonderful apricot flavor and aroma is released. Cracking a few of the pits and throwing in the kernels adds an amaretto-like note, and a teaspoon of lemon juice brightens and intensifies the flavor. A tablespoon of Luxardo maraschino liqueur and a dash of kirschwasser round out the picture.
Both the bittersweet chocolate and the apricot sorbets came out fine. No, better than fine: excellent. Even Gary liked ’em... and that’s a high compliment, seeing as how he is the Sorbet Master.
Lately, my taste buds don’t scream for ice cream; they’re jonesing for sorbet. Hell, I may just give up on ice cream entirely. (Naaaah.)