Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Apricot and Chocolate Sorbets
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.)


Kevin Kim said...

Currently wanting to plunge into this photo of yours.

Anonymous said...

If you want chocolate-in-ice-cream-form, try the Williams-Sonoma Collection: Ice Cream cookbook's double chocolate recipe. One challenge is the non-alkali cocoa powder, I've had great luck with Scharfenberger's -- if it isn't right, the powder stays in clumps. I don't know the final cocoa content, but it has to be 55% or better.

My standard batch is 6 quarts of no-cook custard in a White Mountain, but I won't attempt anything chocolate with that... this is 1.5 quarts of loveliness in my Gelato machine (and a boatload of dishes and pans and time). Depending on quality of ingredients, I've peaked out over $20 per batch and it is worth it!

Best of luck,

leelu said...

I found an interesting book at Amazon - "Ice Cream Happy Hour". The two ladies who authored it have figured out a way to get boozy goodness into ice cream and sorbets without cooking off the alcohol, or turning the confection slushy. I use a Cuisinart ice cream maker, which is pretty slick, compared to the old hand-cranked ones I wrestled with as a kid (the youngest cousin "got" to crank. Feh.)

Vanilla w/ rum and brandy, and mango margarita will put you in a mellow frame of mind.


Elisson said...

Leelu, we are big fans of the Cuisinart ice cream maker, which by now has completely replaced our old Rival machine - the Rival was cranked by electric motor, but still required packing salt and ice around the freezer canister. With the Cuisinart, making sorbet or ice cream is, alas, a quick and painless process... which poses a constant danger to our waistlines.

A little booze provides great flavor. I've made Chartreuse ice cream: it was ridiculously good when paired with a pear sorbet.

Anonymous said...

Sounds yummy!

The book I mentioned is available on Kindle, if you've a mind. I think you'll enjoy.