Many of you who have been following my blog will be aware of my quest to find
easy good recipes for gelatos where all of the ingredients are easily obtainable. That said, one difficulty I will soon face lies in the fact that I (and my ice cream machine) will be relocating to a Mediterranean country where fresh fat-heavy cream will undoubtedly be expensive and possibly even difficult to source. So, all those lovely gelato and ice cream recipes out there that use cream might well be beyond my reach. I have a few options: see how yoghurt, evaporated milk or UHT cream will work in place of fresh cream or experiment will all-milk gelatos. Sweetened condensed milk works well and is often recommended in no-churn ice creams (which I’ve tried with strawberry ice cream before I got my lovely ice cream machine). But to my mind, condensed milk produces an excessively rich ice cream (with lots of fat and calories) and I much prefer lighter gelatos which highlight the flavourings rather than the dairy.
Cutting down on dairy, American style sherberts are another option as these often contain only a little milk. Other non-lactose “creamy” sources such as almond or coconut milk/cream are viable alternatives. I can also expand my reperitoire of sorbets and those beautiful smooth Sicilian-style granitas that do not require dairy at all. So, despite the dearth of fresh cream in my future, there are quite a few options here to explore. Probably healthier, too!
In fact, only last month I explored the use of a sweet wine in producing a flavour-packed cool strawberry-rosé granita. Definitely on the list to do again (and again). But, I felt I needed to try my hand at making a smooth sorbet. I thought to use the fairly old technique of including Italian meringue as a stabiliser. The blog, The Ice Cream Nation has an interesting article on the use meringue in sorbet-making, for those of you interested in the science of iced desserts. Now…it is finally time to conquer that sorbet!
Black Currant Sorbet
Although I use black currants here, the recipe might (theoretically!) be adapted to many other tart berries. Bear in mind, however, that black currants are fairly high in pectin which also acts as a stabaliser, so any fruit you substitute should also be high in pectin. I will need to experiment with other berries and report back.
- 400g fresh or frozen black currants
- 400ml water
- 50g sugar
- 80ml (approximately 1/3 cup) golden syrup or corn syrup
- 1 Tablespoon lemocello or cassis, optional (but really good!)
- 40g Italian meringue (approximately 1/5 of the recipe below)
First make the Italian meringue (described below).
If using frozen berries, defrost first. Crush or purée the berries in a food processor. Sieve to extract the juice and pulp. It should make approximately 300ml (about 1-1/4 cups). Add the lemoncello or cassis and set aside while you make a simple syrup.
In a saucepan on medium-low heat, combine the sugar, syrup and water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Let it cool and then mix with the fruit juice/pulp. Churn in your ice cream machine until it becomes slushy, but still a little loose.
Add the Italian meringue in this last section of churning and allow it to become blended with the sorbet (about 5 minutes, 10 minutes at most). It lightens the colour of the sorbet and provides that stabiliser for a smooth finished product, but does not take away from the vibrant fruit flavour. However, do not be tempted to add more meringue or the texture and taste of the sorbet will change.
Store in the freezer to firm up (at least 4 hours). When serving, take out of the freezer and let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes before scooping.
* * *
This makes more than you will need for the sorbet, but it can be divided and frozen for future sorbet making. It can also be used to make excellent baked meringue shells for pavlovas or to top pies and tarts.
- 60ml (about 1/4 cup) water
- 135g (a little more than 1/2 cup) caster sugar
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 4 egg whites (from large eggs)
- 1 additional Tablespoon sugar
Make a syrup by combining the water, sugar and lemon juice in a pan. Bring to a boil on medium heat and let it continue boiling until it reaches the “hard ball” stage (122 degrees C / 251 degrees F). Stir frequently and be careful that it does not boil down or burn, as it has a tendency to caramelise as it reaches those high temperatures. To test (if you do not have a candy thermometer) that it has reached the correct state, drop a small amount into a ramikin filled with cold water. It should produce a hard candy-like droplet.
While the syrup is boiling, prepare the egg whites by putting them into an electric mixer or food processor. Just before the syrup reaches the “hard ball” stage, whisk the egg whites with the additional Tablespoon of sugar.
When they have become foamy, reduce the speed of the mixer/processor and slowly drizzle in the HOT syrup, taking care not to burn yourself. When all of the syrup has been incorporated, turn the speed back up for about 10 to 15 minutes.
The mixture should have cooled. Italian meringues are cooked egg whites. When the hot sugar syrup is whipped with the egg whites, it cooks at the same time, avoiding the concern over using raw egg whites. It also produces a stiffer meringue.
Measure out what you will need for your sorbet. Freeze the remainder.