Sorbet 101 – a trick to getting a smooth sorbet from any juice!

sorbet (5 of 5)

One of the reasons I went to culinary school, after working in professional kitchens for a few years, was to have an understanding of why my recipes didn’t always work. Things would succeed if I followed the recipe to the letter, but if I played or strayed at all they would have as much chance of being a disaster as they did a winner. In culinary school I learned enough about food science to be able to play with recipes or create my own from scratch. I learned why eggs should be warm when you whip them and why you should use low protein flours for cakes and higher ones for breads. They taught me about Brix, Baume and other technical ways to measure sugar in sorbet solutions so they will freeze, but not become a solid brick of ice. After school, once I could afford it, I bought a Refractometer, which shows you the sugar content in a solution. This way I can mix up a batch of any kind of fruit sorbet, add some simple syrup and the sorbet will be a success. But, what if you are just making sorbet a couple times a year, do you really need such a geeky, expensive gadget? Not unless you are a kitchen equipment hoarder, like me.

So, then what? There is another way to have a greater chance at success than just praying for the best. You can use a method that involves floating an egg in your sorbet. Yep, I said FLOATING AN EGG, the whole thing, in the shell. It is also a very cool experiment to do with your kids. As the solution gets more saturated with sugar, the egg is buoyed to the surface. Once the egg is actually floating partially above the surface, the solution has enough sugar to prevent the sorbet from being too icy. Perhaps not as impressive as whipping out your refractometer, but pretty amazing in a Beakman’s World kind of way and it allows you to make sorbet from just about any juice. Obviously, this will not work with all fruits, banana puree tends to be too thick and the egg, no matter how sweet the solution, will float on the surface. But, for citrus and other thin juices, it is wonderful. (more…)

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Tomato Water Sorbet with a Sweet Tomato Chip

tomato sorbet 01

It is the end of the growing season in Minnesota and time to harvest all the last hanging fruit from the tomato vines. Any day now we’ll get a killing frost, and I’m bracing my self for it. I only have one small tomato plant, sitting in a rather unceremonious pot on my driveway. I would have moved it, or at least transplanted it into something prettier, if it weren’t so happy right where it is. It’s a rather stingy plant, but when it does put out fruit (about one a week), they’re the sweetest, most magnificent tomatoes I have ever had. In total contrast to my meager harvest, my folks have grown a tomato farm in their yard.

tomato sorbet 04

Several varieties, in every color and size. I am the lucky recipient of a tomato basket every couple of weeks. They’ve been made into pizza, gazpacho, caprese salad, sandwiches and this delicate, refreshing sorbet. I was invited to a dinner party that was meant to pay homage to the mighty tomato. I wanted to bring a dessert that would showcase the essence of the fruit. Extracting just the water from the tomato was actually something I had had at a local restaurant, where they served it as a chaser to a shot of tequila. The flavor was such a glorious surprise. I mix the water with simple syrup made with basil and then topped the sorbet with a paper-thin chip of green tomatoes. The flavor is vibrant and sweet without compromising the taste of tomato.  It was a wonderful end to a gorgeous dinner, which featured this lovely tomato and sweet corn quiche from my neighbor, Stephanie Meyer of (more…)

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Ice Cream Cake

Ice Cream Cake | ZoeBakes

For those who have been visiting me for a while on ZoeBakes, you may remember my first Ice Cream Cake post; a dedication to my two brothers. Well, almost 4 years later and I’m still making them ice cream cakes for their birthdays, some traditions are just worth repeating. This cake was done in exactly the same way, but the ice cream flavors are different and I added a layer of sorbet. This cake couldn’t be easier or tastier, and it’s well suited to the little boys my brothers were when I started this tradition and for the great men they have become.  (more…)

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Passion Fruit Baked Alaska (Best Creamsicle Ever!)

ice cream

Passion Fruit tastes like a combination of lemon, peach, pineapple and kiwi. It can be quite sour on its own, but adding it to a sweet and creamy ice cream is like biting into an exotic creamsicle, only way better. The tart ice cream matches beautifully with meringue and makes a simple dessert look fancy and festive.

If you are lucky enough to have access to fresh passion fruit, by all means use it, pulp and all. You may have best luck finding it in Asian or Latin American markets. But, I made due with juice concentrate and it worked great. You can find pure passion fruit juice at some co-op freezers or from Perfect Puree on the web. The shipping is expensive, because they pack it in dry ice and ship it overnight, but for a worthy occasion you may want to splurge.  (more…)

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Philadelphia-Style Chocolate Ice Cream (no-eggs)

chocolate ice cream

When I was little, about 2nd grade, I lived in Philadelphia with my dad. As you may have gathered, from my various childhood food memories from Vermont, California, Connecticut and Massachusetts, we moved a lot. Our time in Philly was brief, but a memorable stop on our journey. My strongest recollection was the local ice cream parlor, just steps from my house. At the time I didn’t know what Philadelphia-Style ice cream was, nor would I have cared, all I knew was that it was cold, creamy and delicious. Fast forward almost 40 years and I am brought back to this memory by a request from one of you for chocolate ice cream. A couple of weeks ago I got a comment from a dad who wanted to make ice cream for his daughter’s birthday, chocolate with orange to be exact. I went hunting in the archives of Zoe Bakes and was stunned to find out that I have never done a post about this basic and essential dessert.

I’ve done several ice creams over the past years on this site, all of them using my favorite “French” custard base, which results in a rich, creamy, luscious ice cream. It requires making an egg custard and then adding flavors. But, this is by no means the only way to make fantastic ice creams. The eggless version is often referred to as Philadelphia-style, which is just cream, sugar and lots of flavor. The texture is a bit lighter, but no less delicious, and it is so simple to put together. I really wanted to tell you the history of this method, but it is a bit murky and I’d have to make up some mythical story to explain the name.  I’ll do more research and report back about the origins Philadelphia-style ice creams, unless one of you can enlighten me?

I’m a little late for the dad who wanted this recipe for his daughter’s birthday, but hopefully they will now make it together. (more…)

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Honey-Rhubarb Ice Cream

rhubarb ice cream

Rhubarb is one of those ingredients that people either adore or avoid. I fall into the former, and use it as much as possible during its rather short growing season. I’ve made it into crisps, pies and even eaten it raw, dipped in sugar (which is admittedly hard core). Combining the mouth-puckering sour flavor of rhubarb with sweet, creamy, honey ice cream base may just be the perfect marriage. I think this may have the power to turn even the most ardent rhubarb haters, into its biggest fans.  (more…)

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