The Colour of Summer

July 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

Sorbet used to perplex me. Why would you choose sorbet over ice-cream? There was no contest between a scoop of rich chocolate ice-cream (in a cup not a cone if you’re asking) and a hard, icy lump of sorbet. I just hadn’t had the right sorbet. This magenta-hued cherry dessert, for example, would be enough to convert the most fervent ice-cream fanatic. Full-bodied but not overly rich, sweet but not saccharine, it’s the perfect end to a warm summery evening.


I know I recently insinuated that the only sensible destination for full season cherries, other than straight from paper bag to mouth, was the clafoutis. I was wrong. Where the clafoutis cossets the cherries in its pale and elegant custard, this sorbet grabs hold of the cherry flavour by the scruff of the neck and turns the volume up to maximum, in such a startling way as to cause you to mix metaphors. And yet it too is elegant in its unadulterated cherry-ness, the only addition to the fruits being a touch of sugar to round out the tart flavour and a kiss of almond essence. I used a food processor rather than blender to whisk up the fruits and their syrup and ended up with flecks of cherry skin through the sorbet. I suspect the “proper” thing would have been to sieve out the skin but I love the flecks and the reminder of the centrality of the fruit. Which is what sorbet is all about. That said, if you choose to serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on the side, I won’t judge.

Cherry Sorbet

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s magnificent A Perfect Scoop (the only ice-cream book you’ll ever need)

2 lbs (1kg) cherries (full-flavoured, very dark cherries like Bings or Burlats)
1 cup (250ml) water
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp (180g) sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp almond extract (or 1 tsp kirsch)

Stem the cherries and remove the pits (as you will eventually puree the cherries you don’t need to do a neat job of this but it’s still a fiddly job – leave yourself more time than you think it will take). In a medium saucepan, warm the cherries along with the water, sugar and lemon juice until they are very soft and cooked through – about 10-15 minutes. You will end up with something that resembles jarred cherries in syrup. Remove from the heat and let set to one side until they reach room temperature.

Puree the cherries and their syrup along with the almond extract or kirsch until smooth, in a blender or food processor. Chill the mixture thoroughly – you will need to leave it in the refrigerator for at least 5 or 6 hours to be sure it is cold enough to freeze, then churn it in your ice-cream maker* as per its instructions.

*If you do not have an ice-cream maker you can put the sorbet mix straight into the freezer in a tub and then mix it by hand by stirring it with a fork every 15-30 minutes, moving the frozen edges into the softer middle until the whole mix is frozen. You won’t get quite as smooth a consistency but the flavour will still be excellent.

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