Jean-Baptiste and I have been frequenting local ice cream shops on a regular basis this summer. What better thing is there to do? In Montreal, ice cream shops are abundant, and good, home-made ice cream is not hard to come by. A couple months ago, early in our budding relationship, we went to a place close to my house call Chez Roberto. It's an Italian restaurant that sells gelato and sorbets. Jean-Baptiste ordered pear and lemon sorbet, one scoop of each in a little dish. I don't remember what I got as my choices paled in comparison, but I vaguely remember tasting cherry and chocolate and peach - and although it may sound good, it was not a winning combination. We ate our gelato (and sorbet) in a near-by park with children climbing on brightly coloured play equipment and splashing through fountains. It was a perfectly gorgeous, early summmer day. I finished my ice cream, which was good, but nothing compared to what was happening next to me. Jean-Baptiste was staring fixedly at his cup while vigorously spooning sorbet into his mouth, grunting and slurping with pleasure. He was generous enough to share, and, oh wow! The lemon flavour was so precise, so fresh, so lemon. The pear so sweet, so soft, so pear. When he finished, he immediately announced he wanted more, and we returned for another cup of lemon and pear to share.
This got me thinking of lemon sorbet. Then I remembered a recipe for lemon sherbet in Jamie Oliver's Italian cookbook that didn't require an ice cream maker. But what's the difference between sorbet and sherbet, you may be asking yourself? Sorbets are "smooth, creamless ice creams made from a sugar syrup base." Sherbets are "made by adding a little bit of cream to a sorbet base." This small amount of cream creates that slightly fizzy taste in your mouth when you eat it. The following recipe does require three to four hours - something I hardly seem to have these days - but it is easy easy easy. It just requires you to spend 6 bucks on mascarpone and about 2 bucks on lemons. (Don't worry, the mascarpone keeps for a LONG time, giving you plenty of time to make tiramisu, another item on my list.) The sugar and water you have on hand, I assume. Although it took me three weeks to organize myself and make the sherbet, I finally did it, and ooh boy, it was worth it!
Sorbetto di limone
special lemon sherbet
Adapted from Jamie's Italy
This recipe makes a tart, but sweet, very lemon-tasting sherbet. It's perfectly perfect for the summer. And doesn't require a fancy ice cream maker!
1 C sugar
1 C water
1 C lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 heaping tablespoon of mascarpone
- Pre-freeze a shallow dish, a sauce pan, or a pyrex baking dish.
- Put the sugar and water into a pan and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 5 minutes. The liquid will be clear and slightly syrupy.
- Take it off the heat and let it cool for 15 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice and zest.
- Add the mascarpone and whisk until it's all incorporated. The mixture will be milky.
- Taste your syrup to see whether you need to adjust the lemon or sweetness. How much lemon juice and sugar you use will depend on your lemons.
- Pour the syrup into your pre-frozen dish and put it in the freezer. Let it sit for an hour.
- After an hour, stir the sherbet, forking up any frozen bits. The outside will freeze first so make sure you run your fork or spoon around the outside.
- Wait another hour and stir again.
- Wait another hour and stir again.
- Then let it be for another hour and it's ready to serve!
- The sherbet will keep in the freezer covered in plastic wrap or with a lid for 3 days before it starts to crystallize.
- Stirring is very important as that is what gives the sherbet a smooth texture.