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Perfect Scoops of Blackberry Sorbet

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Blackberry Sorbet.

After reading David Lebovitz’s scoop-endous list of blogs that feature recipes from his book, The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments, I decided I had to order a copy for myself. It arrived in the mail last week and I eagerly flipped through 246 pages of fantastic recipes and photos. The book has great information about equipment and technique in addition to the extensive assortment of recipes that go well beyond frozen treats. These additions include recipes for toffee, candies fruits, ice cream cones and more; all sorts of things you would expect to accompany your ice cream dessert at a nice restaurant. If you don’t have a book on ice creams—or if you already have more than 10—I highly recommend this one. Great job, David!

If you are in the San Francisco bay area and would like to meet David in person, tickets are still available for his class/demo on June 22 at Draeger’s Cooking School. I’ll be there, too, of course. If you reside elsewhere, check out David’s schedule for an appearance near you. I’m looking forward to seeing him make parsley ice cream (recipe also in The Perfect Scoop), since I wouldn’t have the balls to make an ice cream with parsley on my own.

The first recipe I made from David’s book was Blackberry Sorbet (open your books to page 126, please). I love berries and any ice cream that I get to use my chinois is even better. Coaxing the blackberry puree through the chinois was more work than it was with raspberries, which surprised me. Like the raspberry sorbet I make, I ended up with a heaping 1/4 cup of seeds, so don’t skip using a sieve, strainer or chinois. Since this is a no cook recipe and the amount of lemon juice required is small, it actually assembles very quickly.

The finished sorbet recipe has a beautiful, deep red hue and tastes as good as it looks. I added a little Chambord and limoncello to the recipe since I am hooked on alcohol in sorbets. The resulting flavor is deliciously intense so I considered other flavors to pair it with. Realizing that this sorbet was a key ingredient in my current favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry’s sorbet, Berried Treasure, I decided I would make David’s recipe for lemon sorbet for my next post.

Ingredients for making Blackberry Sorbet.

Purée sugar, water and blackberries in blender.

Pour purée into sieve, strainer or chinois to remove seeds.

Add lemon juice, Chambord and limoncello and transfer to ice batch to chill.

Once sorbet base is colder than 45° F, freeze in ice cream maker per your maker’s instructions.

Transfer frozen sorbet to dedicated container to ripen in freezer for several hours.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery, can be found on the Blackberry Sorbet recipe page.

The Cookie of Champions

Friday, May 25th, 2007

Wheaties Cookies.

You could still eat the cookie of champions for breakfast, but these Wheaties cookies taste great anytime. With a winning combination of oats, chewy coconut and crispy Wheaties, there’s something in this cookie to appeal to everyone.

I first made this recipe in the mid 1970’s with my mom, who would place a maraschino cherry in the middle of each cookie. Two decades went by before I made them again after noticing the hand-written recipe in one of my old cookbooks. In the last couple years I have started making them more often since my son really likes them. Unless you are a true Wheaties champion and plan on eating the remaining Wheaties cereal for breakfast, get the smallest box you can find. You could also substitute another flaky, crispy cereal of your choice—but wouldn’t that be cheating?

Ingredients for making Wheaties Cookies.

Mix butter, eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar together until blended.

Add 1 cup coconut.

Add 1 cup old fashioned oats.

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt before slowly adding to dough.

Crush Wheaties with hand or bottom of glass until pea-sized.

Roll dough into ball and drop gently into crushed Wheaties repeatedly to coat.

Bake for approximately 10 – 12 minutes until center no longer looks raw and edges are browned.

After letting cool for 1 minute on cookie sheets, transfer cookies to cooling racks.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery, can be found on the Wheaties Cookies recipe page.

Hot Fudge Sauce (like you had as a kid).

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

Hot Fudge SauceAs a kid, I loved hot fudge sundaes. The only problem was that you had to go to the ice cream parlor to get one. Oh sure, people would try to make them at home using a can of Hershey’s syrup, but the syrup was runny, especially when it was heated. Then, as the ice cream melted, the syrup would dissolve to make very rich (thanks to the ice cream) chocolate milk. This isn’t hot fudge—hot fudge sauce needs to stick to your spoon and refuse to pour at room temperature or colder. Where do you get such a sauce?

The selection of hot fudge sauces you can buy at specialty and gourmet stores has increased only slightly since I was a kid. Meanwhile, your average supermarket generally carries magic shell, Hershey’s syrup, and other national brand sauces. Occasionally you can find an interesting local chocolate sauce in a specialty/gourmet store. I’ve tried a wine-infused cabernet chocolate sauce that was quite good, especially after an afternoon of wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma Valley here in California. Nevertheless, I would generally consider these kinds of hot fudge sauces as experimental; they are only meant to be tried occasionally.

Stick to the basics.
So of course, a couple years ago I tried to dress this recipe up with a more exotic cocoa powder. I had a huge bag of Valrhona cocoa powder (which has a gorgeous reddish hue) left over from making mocha truffles, so it should make a better, more gourmet sauce, right? Well, it wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t what people were expecting. If you tell someone you are giving them hot fudge sauce, it had better taste like hot fudge sauce—no tricks. To accomplish that, you have to stick to basics and that means using good old fashioned Hershey’s cocoa. Don’t even think of using the newer Hershey’s dark cocoa, either. We’re talking childhood memories, remember?

The ingredients in this sauce aren’t ones I think of when making most of my recipes; real chocolate and cream come to mind. But this is nostalgia, so when I recall the large one gallon cans of syrup on the shelves in the back of the ice cream parlor, evaporated milk and corn syrup sound about right. With this recipe, adapted from an old, out of print Hershey’s Cookbook, I think you will find the taste is right, too.

Ingredients for making Hot Fudge Sauce.

Add evaporated milk and corn syrup to saucepan.

Add cocoa and sugar to evaporated milk and corn syrup.

Bring to a boil and stir for 5 minutes over medium high heat.

Turn off heat and blend in butter and vanilla.

Mix well and let sauce cool and thicken 5 – 10 minutes before pouring over ice cream.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery, can be found on the Hot Fudge Sauce recipe page.

We all scream for Cinnamon Latte!

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

Cinnamon Latte Ice CreamA big fan of coffee flavor in desserts, I was eager to try the Cinnamon Latte Ice Cream recipe from Ice Cream Ireland. Actually I have been meaning to make any of Kieran’s recipes. Erika at Tummy Treasure even got inspired to make her own recipe for a Cinnamon Gelato. Be sure to check out Ice Cream Ireland for a truly wonderful ice cream experience, recipes, great photos and inspiration.

Cinnamon and espresso are the key ingredients in this recipe, so I was off to get some espresso. In this age of venti caramel machiato nonfat soy half-caff frappuccinos it is pretty rare to see someone just order an espresso at their nearby coffee house. So when I purchased four shots of espresso the barista couldn’t help but wonder what I was going to do with it. I guess you’re not allowed to drink that much by yourself so I appreciated their concern. I neglected to tell them I would be reducing the espresso even further to make it more concentrated, thereby avoiding a Starbucks intervention.

Most recipes I have used that require coffee flavoring call for espresso powder and I was concerned about the effects of simmering on the espresso. Kieran told me that reducing the espresso into syrup helps prevent iciness and that the flavor of the espresso is fine after simmering. I made Kieran’s recipe last week and it was rich, creamy and delicious. My wife commented that it was a little on the sweet side and I concurred with her assessment. Delicious as it was, I wouldn’t want to eat a big bowl of it. Kieran’s recipe post asked for feedback on the recipe so I asked him about options for modifying the sugar to milk and cream ratio and he recommended only making tiny changes. Looking at other ice cream recipes I have made, this definitely has more sugar per volume of cream and milk. Other recipes I use typically have 3/4 cup to 1 cup of sugar for 3 cups of milk/cream/half & half.

So today I decided to go with my gut and increase the total volume of milk and cream to 3 cups—a 25% increase—leaving the sugar at 1 cup (one tablespoon less sugar than in the original recipe). I already felt there was plenty of cinnamon flavor, but increasing the milk and cream would also dilute the espresso flavor, so I boosted the coffee flavor with a teaspoon of espresso powder to make up for any dilution and then some. The resulting ice cream recipe was exactly what I was aiming for: the right amount of sweetness with a slightly stronger coffee flavor to balance the cinnamon. My wife and I eagerly cleaned out the ice cream maker with a spatula after freezing. Delicious.

Ingredients for making Cinnamon Latte Ice Cream.

Reduce 4 shots of espresso over stove.

Heat milk and cream over stove until just simmering.

Beat together egg yolks, sugar and cinnamon until light and fluffy.

After slowly adding hot milk and cream to beaten egg yolks, return to stove and cook until thickened.

Pour mixture through chinois to remove any egg bits or other lumps.

Add cooled espresso syrup and espresso powder to ice cream base and chill in ice bath until colder than 45° F.

Pour chilled mixture into ice cream maker and freeze according to your maker’s instructions.

Once ice cream has finished churning, transfer to dedicated container to ripen in freezer.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery, can be found on the Cinnamon Latte Ice Cream recipe page.

So simple and quick it must be Mango Sorbet

Friday, May 4th, 2007

Mango Sorbet.Another sorbet recipe??! OK—I promise I’ll lay off sorbets for a while. In fact, expect a chocolate post very soon, but I digress. When I was buying ingredients for raspberry sorbet last week I also picked up some nice mangoes. After a week, they were getting very ripe, so it was time to put them to good use. When I first started making ice creams with regularity in the mid 1990’s, mango sorbet was one of the first sorbets I made. I dug up the recipe again, from the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library book, Ice Creams & Sorbet. Their recipe calls for corn syrup, which has been getting a lot of bad press in the last few years. Check out the Accidental Hedonist’s post about some of the issues around high fructose corn syrup. Although you won’t be able to talk me out of using corn syrup for classic cream caramels, I wanted to find a recipe that didn’t call for any.

What do other people do?
A quick search on the web revealed more than half a dozen recipes that differed mainly in the ratio of sugar to water. The Williams-Sonoma recipe didn’t call for any water—just a little corn syrup—so I was surprised to see other recipes that called for equal parts water and mango puree. All that water made me worry the sorbet would be icy. A few recipes included a little lime or lemon juice as well, which interested me, since I am hooked on liqueurs in sorbets to promote softness and I have plenty of limoncello left.

Putting it all together
I started with 2 cups of mangoes, 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water, with 3 tablespoons of limoncello. The resulting mixture was incredibly thick, so I added another 1/2 cup of water and ended up with equal parts water and sugar after all! I knew the limoncello would help keep the sorbet soft. Speaking of the alcohol, I was worried the limoncello would stand out too much, but you could barely tell it was there. The resulting sorbet was delightful with a rich mango flavor while not too sweet.

Wow, that was pretty quick and easy!
I was surprised at how quickly and easily this mango sorbet recipe came together. Although I strained the mango puree out of habit, it wasn’t necessary and the chinois was left empty. There is also no cooking for this recipe (some recipes called for simple syrup or other sugar syrup reductions) so it is incredibly quick to make since all the ingredients can be dumped into the blender. What took the longest was figuring out how to slice the mangoes because I don’t really eat mangoes much and these were very ripe. Fortunately, Coconut & Lime has a great overview of choosing and cutting a mango.

Ingredients for making Mango Sorbet.

Slice mangoes to remove skin and seed.

Add mangoes, sugar, water and limoncello to blender and purée.

Pour sorbet base into ice cream maker and freeze per your maker’s instructions.

Chill mixture in ice bath until colder than 45° F.

Once sorbet has finished churning, transfer to dedicated container to ripen in freezer.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery, can be found on the Mango Sorbet recipe page.