When Cold Is Cool

Sorbets and ice creams for the summer

Eugenia Uhl Photographs

















If you like to fool around with different flavors and combinations of flavors, making ice creams and sorbets is a perfect way to indulge your passion. Soups, stews and other one-pot dishes also offer fertile grounds for experimentation, but ice creams and sorbets are better suited to our hot and steamy summers. Besides, frozen desserts are just more fun.

Granted, pursuing ideas that don’t work out can get expensive, but you can minimize that by making very small batches. When you’re happy with a new creation, you can make a full container to share with family and friends. Just be sure to write down the quantity of each ingredient as you go along, or you may never be able to replicate your recipe. That happened to me recently, and I never was able to reproduce exactly what I made previously. Talk about frustrating.

The most important rule in making ice creams and sorbets is the same as it is in any culinary endeavor: Use only first-rate ingredients. Cheap ingredients and imitation flavorings will produce second-rate results. Your creations can be, but don’t have to be, extreme. Developing a recipe for the best vanilla ice cream you ever tasted will be just as satisfying as creating something flavored with bizarre ingredients.

I like to add some liquor to ice creams and sorbets because the alcohol improves the consistency and helps to prevent ice crystals from forming. Vodka is a good choice if you don’t want to add another flavor, but the entire range of liquors and liqueurs provides many possibilities. When using alcohols, add them in small increments to the mix, tasting after each addition. Too much alcohol, in addition to ruining the balance of flavors, will keep the mixture from freezing. One-quarter cup of 80- or 90-proof alcohol in a one-quart mixture is probably about the maximum amount you can use and still achieve proper freezing.

Unless you’re scooping directly from the ice cream machine, it’s best to remove the ice cream or sorbet from the freezer five to 10 minutes before serving in order for it to soften a bit. Or, if you can remember, transfer the dessert from the freezer to the refrigerator when you sit down to lunch or dinner. If you’re not indulging in a long meal, your dessert will be ready to serve when you are. And if you forget, you can always zap it in the microwave.
 


CARDAMOM COFFEE ICE CREAM

Arabic coffee flavored with cardamom is a personal favorite.

2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons instant dark roast coffee
4 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons vodka


• Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
• Chill thoroughly, then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
• Serve immediately or transfer to a container and place in freezer.
• Makes about 1 quart.
 


MINT JULEP SORBET

This is a very cooling and refreshing treat on a hot day.

4 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 cups packed fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup bourbon
mint leaves for garnish


• Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove pan from heat and add mint leaves.
• With a spoon, press mint so it is completely covered with water. Cover pan and steep for 30 minutes.
• Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer and squeeze mint leaves to extract all liquid.
• Add bourbon.
• Chill thoroughly, then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
• Serve immediately and garnish with fresh mint leaves or transfer to a container and place in freezer.
• Makes about 1 quart.
 


HONEY YOGURT ICE CREAM

The tang of yogurt is balanced by the soothing smoothness of honey. For maximum flavor, use a dark, full-bodied honey. Many Louisiana honeys fit the bill.

1 cup Greek-style yogurt
2 cups half-and-half
½ cup honey
3 tablespoons vodka


• Combine yogurt, half-and-half, honey, and vodka in mixing bowl.
• Whisk to combine. Chill thoroughly, then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
• Serve immediately or transfer to a container and place in freezer.
• Makes about 1 quart.
 


MAPLE WALNUT ICE CREAM

No shortcuts here. You need pure maple syrup, not a blend or an extract.

1 ½ cups whole milk
1 ½ cups heavy cream
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons vodka
3/4 cup shelled walnuts


• Place milk, cream, maple syrup, vanilla and vodka in mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Add walnuts.
• Process mixture in blender until smooth.
• Chill thoroughly, then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
• Serve immediately or transfer to a container and place in freezer.
• Makes about 1 quart.
 


CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM

This recipe offers plenty of room for experimentation.
Try substituting a little dark rum or brandy for some of the vodka.


3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons vodka


• Place chocolate and sugar in mixing bowl. Heat half-and-half to a simmer, then pour in bowl and whisk to melt chocolate.
• Add cream, vanilla, and vodka, whisking to combine.
• Chill thoroughly, then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
• Serve immediately or transfer to a container and place in freezer.
• Makes about 1 quart.
 


GINGER CANTALOUPE SORBET

Fresh ginger and lime juice enhance the flavor of cantaloupe.

1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 inch fresh ginger
1 large or 2 small cantaloupes
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup vodka


• Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Peel and slice ginger and add to pan.
• Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and macerate for an hour or two. Strain and discard ginger.
• Halve cantaloupe(s), discard seeds, and remove flesh from rind.
Cut cantaloupe into chunks, add to blender, and puree enough to yield 3 cups.
• Add ginger syrup, lime juice and vodka to blender and pulse to combine.
• Refrigerate mixture until thoroughly chilled. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
• Serve immediately or transfer to a container and store in freezer.
• Makes about 1 quart.

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