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 FreshTart.com. (more…)

Read More

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…)

Read More

Chai Poached Pears and Sorbet

poached pears

This is the perfect dessert for Thanksgiving dinner. It can be made days ahead, doesn’t require any oven space and is decadent with flavor, but light enough to follow your Thanksgiving feast. The poaching liquid is homemade chai; a blend of sweet spices and black tea. Once the pears are finished poaching, the liquid can be chilled in an ice cream maker to serve as sorbet. A drizzle of chocolate ganache gussies up the dessert and makes it look like something you fussed over, even though this is one of the easiest desserts to create. No one needs to know that!

Be sure to pick firm, unripe pears for poaching. The harder the pear, the longer it will take to poach, which means it has more time to soak up the flavors of the chai. Slow poaching is key to great flavor. (more…)

Read More

Ice Cream Sandwiches for a Heatwave! (Oatmeal Rum Raisin Cookies with Wildflower Honey Ice Cream, and many more!)

There is a rule in my house, I am only allowed to complain about one MN season, and I have chosen winter. This leaves me in a bit of a conundrum this week when it is going on the 3rd day of 95°, with humidity to match. Do I give up bitching about winter in place of this, or just adopt an all ice cream diet? I have settled on the latter, because griping about winter is the only thing that gets me through it and I love ice cream, so this won’t be much of a sacrifice. I’ll eat it in a bowl, on a cone, in a shake, with or without malt, on top, underneath or inside a dessert (baked alaska), but one of my all time favorite ways to eat ice cream is between two cookies. Chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, ginger snap, graham crackers, honey tuile, chocolate meringue, and rosemary shortbread have all been made into ice cream sandwiches in my house.

Here is a recipe for my Oatmeal Rum Raisin Cookies which I paired up with Wildflower Honey Ice Cream. (I have also made this honey ice cream with 3/4 cup slightly crushed, lightly toasted, sunflower seeds and it is outrageous. A little something I picked up at the MN State Fair.) With this combo I can endure the heatwave. For the recipes and more ice cream sandwich combos… (more…)

Read More

Lemon Champagne Mint Cocktails turned into Granita!

A couple weeks ago I mentioned on my Twitter page that I was competing with my neighbor in a cocktail pour-off. I couldn’t share my recipe then, because spying eyes from across the lawn could not be trusted. Truth be told, I was in over my head on this one and needed any advantage I could get. In the end my neighbor Kathy won with her refreshing and seasonal “Dirty Ramp-tinis.”  She pickled the ramps, then poured ice cold gin over them and drizzled a bit of the pickling juice into the glass. They were simple perfection. I bowed my head to her after the first sip. My creations were dessert to her cocktail appetizers. I, of course, went for something with a bit of sweetness, but also tart and refreshing. I have been known to enjoy my sparkling beverages in the form of cava, prosecco and champagne; it was bound to be featured it in the glass. I had candied kumquats in my cupboard and lemongrass in my crisper drawer, so a citrus theme was born. I made a Meyer lemon and lemongrass sorbet to float in the champagne. I came in second (it was just the two of us competing), but I think I could have won against anything other than the “Dirty Ramp-tinis.” I did get extra points for presentation; I used my grandmother’s glasses and the drink really was lovely.

As I was enjoying my “Lemongrass Champagne Fizz Cocktail” I was already planning to make these same ingredients into a simple granita. Granita is like the rugged cousin of the sorbet. It has large crystals of flavored ice that require nothing but a basic freezer to make. It is perfect for those without an ice cream maker or those, like me, who just forgot to freeze the one I do own. It also doesn’t require a precise recipe to freeze smooth, since part of its charm is the icy texture.

The Cake Decorating Giveaway is still open. Click to read more details on how to win a Cupcake decorating set!

(more…)

Read More

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

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…)

Read More