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Apple Sorbet

28 Sep

Shanah Tovah U’Metukah

Have a good and sweet year

Apple Sorbet

Please forgive me, but this is going to be a rather reflective post. In honor of the Jewish New Year, which begins on sundown Wednesday evening, I am making a trio of sorbets, each one bringing forth a new flavor and blessing for the new year. This recipe, apple sorbet, carries quite a bit of meaning.

Ever since I was a little girl, my parents used to say that no matter what – the most important thing is that we have our health, and that we have each other. I never fully understood those words – they resonated, sure, I knew that it was very important to have family, but as a kid, you take good health for granted. As an adult, working for Project Sunshine I see the impact of health, both good and bad, on families across the country. Every day I am humbled by the generosity, strong spirits, and resiliency of these brave, young patients. In the face of such challenges, they smile, they laugh, and quite honestly, they elicit from me such joy and happiness that I am truly in awe.

Macintosh Apples. Good stuff.

It’s times like these that I am reminded of how blessed I am to have my health – and as my mom always said – to have “each other”. I am truly grateful for each family member and each friend that is part of my life. I can only wish that each one of you are blessed with good health, happiness and lots of sweetness as we embark on this new year together.

And now, a bit about the sorbet. Apples and honey are the quintessential combination during the Jewish New Year. There are many interpretations about the combination of apple and honey – and at the most rudimentary level – they represent the sweetness with which we should all be blessed each year. But on a deeper level, the apple is a rather famous fruit in our culture.  Midrash, or biblical stories, teach that the apple tree puts forth the nub of its fruit even before the leaves that will surround and protect the little fruit  are fully sprouting. This is a beautiful metaphor. Much like the apple leaves protect the fruit until it is truly ready to enter the world, so too do our family and friends protect us from the outside world until we are truly ready to venture into it ourselves. As each of one you embarks on a new journeys this year, I wish you the necessary shelter and support until you are ready to face those challenges, be they good or bad, and the strength to carry you forward to achieve each and every goal along the way.

Look at that beautiful star created by the apple seeds

That my friends, is why I’ve decided to make an apple sorbet. May your homes be filled with sweetness in the coming year. Here’s to good health and happiness.

Apple Sorbet

Adapted from David Lebovitz

Ingredients

3 Macintosh Apples

1 Gala Apple

2 cups Riesling wine

2/3 cup sugar

Honey (optional – but just enough to drizzle on top of your scoop)

Apples + Riesling = Pure Goodness

Method

Brace yourselves, this is very simple.

Core and seed the apples. Cut into 1 inch pieces. (Do not peel, the skin adds great flavor and color).

Put the apple pieces and 2 cups of Riesling into pot. Cover and let boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce to a simmer for 15-18 minutes. Stir a few times so that the apples cook evenly.

Straining the apples and syrup created from boiling the apples and riesling

Remove from the stovetop and pour the liquid into a heat-proof bowl. You’ll notice that a lot of apple pulp and skins will remain, and it looks a bit like apple sauce. Put the remaining chunky mixture into a blender (or you can use an immersion blender or food processor) and puree. Whisk the thicker, apple-sauce type puree into the liquid mixture. While it’s still hot, pour in the sugar and whisk until it dissolves. Cool completely before refrigerating for at least 2 hours.

Once chilled, pour the mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions (approximately 20 minutes). Transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze for 2 hours before serving. When ready to eat, scoop into a bowl, drizzle with a little bit of honey (optional) and enjoy!

Here's to a sweet new year. Dig in!

The Verdict: While I don’t have input yet from the official taste-testers (my entire extended family!) I do know that this was one of the best sorbets I have personally tasted. It was so creamy you would think it was ice cream, and interestingly enough, the wine cooked off leaving behind a sweet, flavorful taste. In fact, the wine actually augmented the flavor of the fruit – it was just delightful and refreshing. I’m definitely going to make this again!

Happy New Year. Dig in!

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Cappuccino Chip Ice Cream

14 Sep

One morning, a grandmother was surprised to find that her 7-year-old grandson had made her coffee! Smiling, she choked down the worst cup of her life. When she finished, she found three little green Army men at the bottom. Puzzled, she asked, “Honey, what are these Army men doing in my coffee?” Her grandson answered, “Like it says on TV, Grandma. ‘The best part of waking up is soldiers in your cup.

Two cups of cappuccino chip ice cream. One for me. One for The Husband.

Kids say the darndest things!

When my sisters and I were little, we loved watching America’s Funniest Home Videos and Kids Say the Darndest Things (probably because we were forbidden from watching 90210, Friends, anything on Fox or MTV, in other words, anything that wasn’t G-rated). Irony of all ironies, Bob Saget, who we loved from Full House, hosted America’s Funniest Home Videos, but boy does he have a potty mouth these days. See mom and dad, that’ll show you! You should have just let us watch what we wanted – it would have avoided tons of fights. But, alas, we were pure and untainted by the trashy 80’s/90’s TV shows and I suppose we’re better people because of it…

Must. Have. Cappuccino. Now.

In my older years, I’ve started re-watching the Cosby show. I have to say, that show is outrageously funny. The other night I was watching it on my iphone in bed, when I began belly laughing. I woke up The Husband. He was pissed. I felt badly, but honestly, Bill Cosby is too funny for words. Now that’s a good wholesome show worth re-watching!

Mixing the coffee granules and cinnamon into the hot milk mixture

Onto the ice cream. I promise this post is about more than strict TV schedules and funny 80’s sitcoms. Fast forward 20 years and instead of watching innocent, harmless TV, I sit at a desk all day and drink coffee. Well, the sitting at a desk part is true, the all day drinking coffee is a slight exaggeration. You see, I love coffee. Unlike most people who drink it only for caffeine, I actually drink it because I like the taste. In fact, I can’t actually drink caffeine because it makes me so jittery and insane. I’m already Type A enough, I don’t need a dose of caffeine to keep me going! So, instead, I drink decaf coffee and savor the flavor.

Oooh look at that beautiful frothy swirl

If you recall, I can’t really have all that much dairy, and so while I love me a good cappuccino the milk doesn’t love me back, and by the end of the day, I’m paying for it. But, like any stubborn food lover, I ignore my belly aches and drink the coffee anyway. So, during a coffee-less morning last week, I began daydreaming about cappuccinos when boom – this flavor came to me. Cappuccino Chip. It’s the perfect mixture of coffee, cinnamon and cream. The chips add a great extra layer of texture and because they are infused with coffee and cinnamon, they match the ice cream’s flavor profile perfectly.

Tempering the egg mixture by slowly adding in the coffee cream into the eggs

In short, this is a great ice cream and it’s even more delicious when served in a coffee mug. The Husband and I loved it. Dig in!

Cappuccino Chip Ice Cream

Ice cream base adapted quite a bit from Ben & Jerry

The chips are a 365scoops original!

Ingredients

The Ice Cream

3 1/2 tbs good quality instant coffee

1 tbs cinnamon

3 large egg yolks

2 1/4 cups half-and-half

3/4 cup whole milk

3/4 cup sugar

After melting the chocolate, patting it down to form the chips

The Chips

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 tsp instant coffee mixed with 2 tsp hot water

1 tsp cinnamon

Method

Heat the milk and half-and-half in a large pot on the stove-top. While the mixture is warming, whisk the three egg yolks together, slowly adding the sugar until well-blended. Once bubbles start to form around the edges of the milk, stir in the instant coffee and cinnamon. Remove from heat and slowly pour into the egg mixture. Add a little milk, whisk, and repeat. Congratulations, you’ve tempered the eggs! Now pour the liquid back into the pot and heat until it reaches 170 degrees F (so that the eggs are fully cooked). Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before chilling completely in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Breaking up the chocolate, espresso, cinnamon chips before adding to the ice cream

While the mixture is cooling, make the chocolate chips. Pour the chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl, add the cinnamon and coffee. Melt in the microwave on high for 15 seconds, stir, and repeat until the chips are fully mixed. This should take no more than 30 -45 seconds. Alternatively you can heat the chocolate in a double broiler but since I don’t have one, the microwave worked just fine. Be careful not to burn or overcook the chocolate!

Behold, the power of cappuccino chip ice cream!

Put a piece of wax paper on a plate or baking sheet. Scoop the chocolate onto the wax paper, and working quickly, flatten out the chocolate. You can either use your hands (as I did) or you can cover the chocolate with another piece of wax paper and use a rolling pin to methodically and evenly roll out the chocolate. Put the chocolate into the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.

Once the ice cream mixture is completely chilled, pour into the bowl of your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, remove the chocolate from the refrigerator and break into small pieces. Approximately five minutes before the ice cream is done churning (which for me was after 15 minutes) add in the chocolate chips. Let the mixture blend thoroughly before transferring to a freezer-safe container.  Freeze for approximately 2 hours before enjoying!

One delicious cappuccino chip ice cream, coming right up!

The Verdict: Tastes just like a cappuccino! Success. The chips are a must for this flavor. Next time, I might cut the cinnamon a bit, especially because The Husband complained that it was too cinnamon-ey. Otherwise, it was really creamy and lasted quite well in the refrigerator. A real treat. A must eat. Grab a spoon and dig in!

Nutella Gelato

8 Sep
“Che cosa sarebbe il mondo senza Nutella?” ~ Nutella Slogan
(What would the world be without Nutella?)

Boy was that delicious.

I ask myself the same thing every day.

What was the world like before Pietro Ferrero and his son Michele invented Nutella? How did people live? The simple answer is, they didn’t!
Lately Nutella is everywhere. In fact, it’s so big – and so widely loved – that February 5th became World Nutella Day. Pimping their image, Nutella came out with a new advertising campaign claiming to be a healthy breakfast. This is where you lose me.  I am a self-proclaimed sweet-o-holic, but even I know that Nutella is no match for a healthy breakfast. In fact, the commercials claiming that it’s made with fresh hazelnuts, skim milk and “a hint” of cocoa is a bunch of malarkey if you ask me.
Let’s all do ourselves a flavor and admit that yes, Nutella is insanely good, and yes, Nutella is the perfect topping for any crepe or brownie, and yes, the Ferrero family is brilliant, but please, oh please, let’s not convince ourselves that Nutella is part of a wholesome, balanced diet. It’s not. And it never will be.
So, for the time being, let’s focus on the perfectly creamy treat, and how it found its way into my Gelato.

The not-so-secret ingredient

I made this flavor as a special gift for a friend who, not so subtly, mentioned that Nutella is one of her favorite things in the world. This girl has managed to put Nutella in everything from brownies to waffles. But, she doesn’t ever need an excuse to eat Nutella; she tells me that it’s just as good straight out of the container. As if I didn’t know that already.

I don’t necessarily discriminate against Nutella. In fact, give me a jar, and I’m likely to take a scoop right off the top. But during my informative tour of Amorino Gelato I learned that Nutella produced here in the US (typically sold in plastic bottles) and that produced in Europe (available in glass jars) actually taste quite different. Naturally, I made this flavor with the US-produced version (still totally delicious, don’t worry) but next time I’m going to use the European version for an even more authentic taste.
But for the time being, grab a spoon and dig in. The was absolutely outrageous and one of my personal favorites.

Adding Nutella into the milk mixture. Getting very excited.

Nutella Gelato

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis and Ciao Bella

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk

1 cup cream

1/2 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup Nutella, plus additional for topping

Toasted and chopped Hazelnuts, for topping

Whisking the egg yolks and sugar. Let the tempering begin.

Method

Heat the milk and cream in a heavy duty saucepan. Once bubbles start to form around the edges, whisk in the Nutella so that it fully incorporated into the liquid. Turn off the heat and set aside.

While the milk and cream mixture is heating, whisk together the 4 egg yolks with the 1/2 cup sugar in a large, heat-proof mixing bowl. Add sugar slowly until the egg yolks get thick and pale yellow. Once the sugar and egg yolks are fully blended, slowly pour in the hot milk mixture to temper the eggs. Once the milk and egg mixture is fully combined, pour it back into the saucepan and heat until the mixture reaches 170 degrees F (which is when the egg yolks are fully cooked). Add the vanilla and let the mixture cool completely before refrigerating for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Heating the egg, milk, and Nutella mixture to 170 degrees F

Once fully chilled, pour into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn for approximately 20 minutes or according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Scoop into a freezer safe container (if you even make it that far) and freeze. When you’re ready to eat it, place two generous scoops of Nutella Gelato into an ice cream bowl, drizzle Nutella on top, add a few toasted hazelnuts and enjoy!

Up close and personal. Pure heaven.

The Verdict: This. Is. So. Good. (And very addictive . I’ve had two bowls in the time it took me to write this post). To be honest, though, when I first tasted this gelato it was too sweet for my liking (I know that sounds insane coming from a lover of all things sweet). But, once the gelato sat overnight in the freezer, it miraculously lost some of its sweetness, and the Nutella flavor became more prominent. There’s probably a culinary term for this phenomenon, but since I don’t know what it is, I recommend that you let this flavor sit overnight before eating it. The good news is that it’s still delicious (if not more delicious) a week later. I really just can’t get enough. Hopefully my dear friend, the self-proclaimed “Assistant Director of Flavor Creation & Tasting” liked this flavor as much as I did.

Watermelon Bombe

16 Aug

“Without an open minded mind, you can never be a great success.” ~ Martha Stewart

The lovely slices of the watermelon bombe

A friend recently sent me a slideshow with 60 different frozen treat recipes created by none other than Martha Stewart. “60 days of inspiration”,  read her note. “Get cracking!”  is what went through my mind! Well let me tell you, I scrolled through each of those beautiful creations and my friend was right…I’ve been inspired. So, with an open mind, I set out to make this wonderful watermelon treat.

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for… the great reveal…

The W-A-T-E-R-M-E-L-O-N B-O-M-B-E!

Was it worth it? No

Will I do it again? No (Actually, maybe yes, but only to perfect the recipe)

Was this Watermelon Bombe a bomb? Emphatic Yes!

Ok. That’s a lot of ranting. Let me qualify the above statements.

In actuality this recipe was beautiful. It worked (even with substantive adaptations) just like Martha said it would. And even though I am a really harsh critic, when I sliced the “watermelon” a very pure, child-like smirk came over my fact. I did it! I have to admit, I was very proud of good ‘ole 365scoops.

Does anyone want a half watermelon?

But there were 2 major hiccups that I couldn’t get over. First, the watermelon sorbet was slightly icy (as any high-water content fruit sorbet would be) and so the watermelon bombe didn’t cut into perfect slices; it crumbled a bit instead. [No one seemed to notice but me, of course.]  Second, the white part of the rind (is it the pith?) and the actual rind bled together, and while most people didn’t even notice, I did because I spent three days preparing this beast of a dish and wanted it to go smoothly. So, instead of perfect watermelon slices as depicted in dear Martha’s photos, mine was a little bit more blended and crumbly than I would have liked. (See photos for proof!)

I consider myself really good at following directions, and generally my recipe creations look quite similar to the photo, but this one strayed a bit. Shame. I’m going to blame the fact that Martha’s food photographers probably photoshopped the heck out of her watermelon bombe. That and the fact that Martha is the Queen of Crafts so hers probably just looked better than mine. Plain and simple.

I digress…

A big fat slice of "watermelon"

This watermelon bombe was truly a labor of love. Though it took a bit of time [read: 3 days*] to make, assemble, and serve, it was a really fun project. And though I was complaining a bit  incessantly, the finished product was actually beautiful. So there.

*This project took 3 days because I only have one bowl for my ice cream maker, and it takes 18-24 hours for the bowl to freeze, so I could only make 1 flavor a day for three days. Hence the long journey to a grand watermelon bombe.

The Watermelon Bombe

Sorbet and ice cream recipes adapted from David Lebovitz, The Vegan Scoop and Bruce Weinstein. 

Ingredients

Step 1: Fill with lime sorbet

1 quart lime sorbet

1 quart vegan vanilla bean ice cream

1 quart watermelon sorbetto

Method

Line a 7″ pyrex or metal mixing bowl with saran wrap.

Immediately after churning the lime sorbet, or after thawing store-bought sorbet (gasp!) for 10 mins, scoop and spread the lime sorbet into an even layer on the interior of the bowl to create the green watermelon rind.  You will use the entire quart of sorbet. Cover, move to the freezer and let harden for at least 1 hour.

Step 2: Fill with an even layer of vegan vanilla bean ice cream

Repeat the above with the vegan vanilla bean ice cream. Spread an even layer of the ice cream on top of the lime sorbet to create the watermelon pith (the white part!). There will be a few scoops of ice cream left over. Cover, move to the freezer and let harden for at least 1 hour or overnight.

To finish the watermelon, scoop the watermelon sorbetto into the bowl, making sure to pack it tightly and evenly. Flatten the top and return to the freezer to harden. There will be leftover watermelon sorbetto.

Before serving, soak the bowl in a large bowl of hot water for approximately 20 seconds. Remove the cover, place face down on a serving plate or cutting  board and tap the bowl so that the saran wrap releases. If it doesn’t work, you can flip the bowl over, and pull the saran wrap gently to release, and then flip the bowl over again onto the cutting board and the watermelon bombe will come right out.

Step 3: Add the watermelon sorbetto and smooth to make the final layer

Slice the watermelon bombe to look exactly like a watermelon, serve and enjoy!

The Verdict: A for effort. A for execution. B/C for presentation. Not my best showing, but a valiant effort at that. This was truly a beautiful creation, it just didn’t go as swimmingly as trusty Martha’s. But hey, this is the 365scoops version, and for that, I say dig in!

Vegan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

15 Aug

Did you know that the most popular flavor of ice cream in the United States is Vanilla? According to the NDP Group’s National Eating Trends In-Home Database, 27.8% of people favor vanilla ice cream above all other flavors!

Creamy vegan vanilla bean ice cream

I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately for vegan ice cream. I personally have a real affinity for all-things dairy, but sadly a bunch of my friends simply cannot eat it. So, I caved, and made vegan vanilla bean ice cream. The texture was perfect. The flavor was a little sweet, but I was so impressed at how beautifully it thickened (considering it was made with soy milk, which is essentially water-based) that it overshadowed the sweetness of this treat.

This vegan vanilla treat is the second layer in my upcoming Watermelon Bombe. You know, watermelon rind is green, then it has a white layer (name, anyone? is it pith? rind?) and then the actual watermelon fruit itself. So hold on to your hats folks because this means that the Watermelon Bombe is going to be revealed very soon!

A few months ago I made Soy Latte Ice Cream and while the flavor was terrific, the ice cream was a little icy and watery. I blamed the poor consistency on the fact that it was my first foray into vegan treats, and knew that I would have to try again. This vegan ice cream was my chance for redemption and ka-ching, I hit the jackpot. Had it not worked, I would have still blogged about it, but would have been a major whiny pants!

A little ice cream lesson if you will:

Fat does not freeze, fat is good (well, sort of…please don’t take that out of context!) and fat is smooth and creamy. This is why “full-fat” aka cream-based ice creams are, well, creamier. If you try substituting skim milk or other lower fat dairy products in place of half-and-half, whipping cream or even whole milk, you’ll notice that the next day, the ice cream is rock hard and you’ll actually need an ice pick to eat it.

Soy milk and arrow root flour...mixed together and heated they are a great thickening agent

Well, water based products (like soy milk) tend not to have as much fat, and therefore get icier and freeze harder. Egg yolks could be of assistance in the creaminess department due to their emulsifying properties, but then this recipe would not have been vegan.

So, the general consensus is to add 2 tbs of arrow root flour to the mixture. Let me tell you, it thickens beautifully and makes the ice cream ever so creamy. It was honestly like magic.

Vegan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Adapted from The Vegan Scoop

Ingredients

2 cups soy milk*

1 cup soy creamer

1 tbs vanilla bean paste (I would suggest using 3/4 of a tbs next time)

3/4 cup sugar

2 tbs arrow root flour

*I used 1 cup of vanilla soy milk and 1 cup of regular soy milk. I would not recommend this as it was too sweet, but I had it in the house and didn’t want it to go to waste. Next time I’ll only use regular soy milk. You live and you learn.

Vegan vanilla bean ice cream churning...

Method

Mix 2tbs of arrow root flour with 1/2 cup of soy milk and set aside.

In the meantime, heat the soy creamer, remaining 1 1/2 cups of soy milk and sugar in a saucepan until small bubbles form around the edges. Do not let it boil. Once hot, remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the soy milk and arrow root flour mixture. You will notice that the mixture begins to thicken, almost like when adding milk to an instant pudding mixture. Continue stirring until the entire mixture is blended and then add in the tablespoon of vanilla bean paste.

Let the mixture cool completely before refrigerating at least 2 hours. Pour the mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You’ll notice that this ice cream will churn faster than non-egg based recipes but on par with custards. Remove from the machine and eat or put in a freezer safe container to store.

The Verdict: Other than the fact that this recipe was too sweet (mea culpa…I should not have used vanilla soy milk) it was still pretty yummy. Full disclosure, I’m not a fan of dairy-free ice cream because that’s not really ice cream thankyouverymuch but all things considered this was really quite good! Being that this was made with soy milk (and not coconut milk or cashews) it had a slight soy aftertaste, but that’s to be expected. And like I said earlier, the texture was perfecto!

Stay tuned for the watermelon bombe extravaganza…

Lime Sorbet

8 Aug

“If life gives you limes, make a margarita.” ~ Jimmy Buffett

Loads of limes (how's that for alliteration?)

Mr. Buffett is a wise man. I probably should have listened to him and made margarita sorbet instead. Oh well, I’ll have to do that another time. Perhaps Cinco de Mayo.

Since I still only have one small ice cream maker, and therefore only one bowl for the machine (which, mind you, has to be frozen for 18-24 hours before use), I had to devote all of last week to making this ridiculous Watermelon Bombe. So, each day I came home from work, created another sorbet or ice cream, shaped it, froze it, and hoped for the best. In a few days I’ll reveal the actual Watermelon Bombe but for now, you’ll have to learn about the grueling process…

This lime sorbet started out all fine and dandy. I decided to try a new recipe from Bruce Weinstein, who wrote The Ultimate Ice Cream Book. Can’t be bad, right? Wrong!  Note to self: Don’t trust a recipe blindly again.

Here’s the scoop. I needed a green flavor for the watermelon “rind” in my watermelon bombe. I decided that lime sorbet would be best, and by adding green food coloring I got the perfect watermelon “rind” color. Not so fast.  I squeezed and zested limes until my fingers were sore, whisked an egg white until my weak little arm muscles were pissed, all in hopes of a limey treat. Ohy….not what I hoped for.

Squeezing those limes. A little trick to help get all the juice out, cut the limes in half and stab the cut side with a fork while squeezing. Trust me, it works!

I can’t quite figure out what made the sorbet so weird. First and foremost, it was way too sweet. I mean sickeningly sweet. And that means a lot coming from a self-proclaimed sweet-o-holic. I tried to offset the sweetness with lime zest – lots of it – even though the recipe didn’t call for any. Using my brand new citrus zester certainly made this much easier. But still, no good.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to the freezer…by some miracle of miracles, I let the sorbet freeze overnight and you know what, it lost some of its sweetness. I’m not sure how it happened, but it transformed from a painfully sweet, questionable sorbet, to a little more of a refreshing ( and sweet) summer treat. Another possibility is that it grew on me.  Either way, next time I make lime sorbet I’m going to use a lot less sugar, and a lot more lime.

Lime Sorbet

Adapted from Bruce Weinstein’s recipe

Stirring the lime juice into the egg white and sugar syrup mixture

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups sugar**

2 cups water

1 large egg white

2/3 cup fresh lime juice (from 6-7 large limes)

zest from 2-3 limes, according to taste

Approximately 5 drops of green food coloring

**If you know anything about making sorbet, you’ll notice that the water to sugar ratio here is not accurate. For simple syrup you need 1 cup water for every 1 cup sugar. In Bruce’s recipe the ratio is 1 1/4 cups sugar for 2 cups water, or a little less than 2:1. That should be the first red flag! Anyhow…

Method

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Raise the heat and boil the syrup for one minute, and remove from the heat.

...And poof, it's green!

In a medium mixing bowl lightly beat the egg white with a whisk or an electric beater until foamy. Slowly beat in the hot sugar syrup and continue to beat until the meringue (aka egg white) cools down. Add in the lime juice and lime zest. Cover and refrigerate until cold or overnight. You’ll notice that the mixture will have foam on top, don’t worry it will incorporate into the sorbet when it freezes.

Stir the chilled mixture and freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When finished, the sorbet will be soft and ready to eat. If you’re just making this for a refreshing treat then I say eat it out of the machine. If you’re saving it for a watermelon bombe (which I was) you’ll have to mold it into the watermelon shape. I’ll tell you all about this in a few days, hold your horses!

Fully churned, that stuff looked beautiful...The taste, on the other hand...

The Verdict: Eh. Way way way too sweet. If the simple syrup proportion was correct, and we omitted the egg white, I have a feeling this would have been much better. But, the lime zest definitely saved the day, and when this was served in conjunction with vanilla ice cream and watermelon sorbet, the overly sweet lime flavor was definitely tempered. Phew.

Stay tuned for more on the Watermelon Bombe. Trust me, it was cool.

Watermelon Mint Granita

5 Aug

“Pick up a sesame seed but lose sight of a watermelon.” ~ Chinese Proverb

Fresh watermelon mint granita topped with a lime slice. Yum!

This proverb is very telling and it’s a reminder not to focus on all the minutia in life and instead direct your energy to more important, big picture things.

Today has been a particularly frustrating day. Nothing seemed to go my way – I was parched and reached for a cup of water and the office cooler was empty. I took one bite of my salad and spilled it – with balsamic vinegar – on my lap. I found myself getting very frustrated and worked up by minute details and annoyances at the office. And then. Pow! I stumbled across this proverb and I realized that I needed to get a grip, and quit sweating the small stuff. If I continue to allow all of these tiny annoyances to pile up and bother me, I’m going to be toast. I need to cool it…

…And so I did, with this terrific watermelon mint granita! I’ve been on a mint kick lately. It’s funny considering I had a mint tragedy a few months ago, but I’m recovering. Last week I made fresh mint lemonade when it was 104 degrees and it was so perfectly refreshing.  Today I used the rest of the mint  and the remaining 3.5 cups of watermelon puree from the watermelon sorbetto for this watermelon mint granita. [By the way, if I were getting paid for every time I’ve used the word watermelon in the past two posts I’d be rich!]

I saw that Martha Rose Shulman, the brains behind recipes for health in the NY Times had a recipe for watermelon mint smoothies. I figured heck, if she can pulse it into a smoothie, surely I can freeze it into a granita. I changed some of the ingredients and proportions, and I’m pretty certain that is an awesome summer treat!

What a beautiful watermelon!

A few words about granitas… The granita originated in Sicily, and it’s  a cousin of the Italian ice or sorbet. The granita texture varies in different parts of Italy; some of them are more creamy and smooth, others are icier and coarser. Either way, granitas can be eaten with a brioche for breakfast (um, yum), in coffee, on top of sorbet, or with a dollop of whipped cream. Bottom line, a granita is delicious and refreshing! I’m serving mine straight up with a slice of lime, though I was tempted to pour a little vodka or rum on top and enjoy it while watching the beautiful NYC sunset. There’s always tomorrow for that…

Watermelon Mint Granita

Adapted from recipes for health by Martha Rose Shulman

Fresh mint and watermelon puree

Ingredients

3.5 cups of pureed, seedless watermelon*

1/2 cup of sugar (you could use agave as well, just adjust proportions)

2 tbs of fresh mint

1 tbs of vodka (optional)

2 tbs of fresh lime juice

*To get 3.5 cups of watermelon puree, you’ll need approximately 3.5 lbs of watermelon. I bought a 5.5lb watermelon which yielded 6.5 cups of watermelon puree.

Method

Remove the watermelon rind and cut into small pieces. Puree the watermelon in the blender until smooth. There will be small white seeds, don’t worry about it.

Watermelon mint granita ready to be frozen...

Add in the fresh mint, lime juice, sugar and vodka and puree until smooth.

Pour into an 11×7 rectangular pan and freeze. After approximately 1.5 hours, check the granita. Once it has started to freeze run a fork through the entire pan and begin breaking up the ice to make little icicles. Return the dish to the freezer, then check the mixture every 30 minutes afterward, stirring each time and breaking up any large chunks into small pieces with a fork, until you have fine crystals of home made granita!

While this makes a quart of granita, it doesn’t actually serve as many people as a quart of ice cream. Expect to serve four people with this, especially because they’ll definitely come back for seconds!

Look at those beautiful watermelon mint crystals...

The Verdict: I loved it! This was so easy and so refreshing. The best part? No ice cream maker or tools required. This is a very simple crowd pleaser; everyone will think you went to lots of trouble but in reality you mixed and froze some fruit and sugar. Not too shabby! Granitas are a perfect treat for a hot summer night. Enjoy.