LA-based catering manager Elizabeth Fox knows her desserts. It’s a perk of the job when you work with such celebrated chefs. Even better, aside from getting tasty samples, sometimes they share their sweet secrets with her. Here, Elizabeth lets us in on a favorite recipe from one of her top-notch chefs …
A Fruitful Endeavor
I don’t often venture into the dessert realm in the kitchen. Accomplishing dinner’s main course takes most of my focus, so concocting a dessert, too? I was a bit skeptical …
Recently though, inspired by lingering, warm days, I decided it was time for a cold, summer treat. Since I wanted my foray into the dessert domain to be successful, I asked my colleague for help (a pastry chef, and master of all things delectable and sweet). I told her I wanted to prepare something uncomplicated, fresh, and light. She instantly recommended sorbet. She gave me one of her favorite recipes: seven ingredients, boiled together, and then poured into an ice cream maker. That, I can do!
Sorbet’s very versatile and super simple to make. Essentially, any fruit will do – berries you have on hand, seasonal fruit fresh from the farmer’s market, or even the surplus of mint you have in your garden (like I do!). It’s really something you can get creative with.
The Simpatico Sweet
Over the years, I’ve definitely seen an uptick in dietary restrictions, allergies, and intolerances. Dairy is one of the repeat offenders. For this reason, our chefs frequently offer sorbet as a non-dairy dessert alternative. It’s really a great choice in general, helping to end any meal on a lighter note. Three (or more!) courses can weigh heavy on the belly, so it’s nice to finish a meal feeling refreshed rather than stuffed, or worse – suffering from an allergic reaction.
A Brief Intermission
Speaking of dinners with multiple courses, if you ever have the opportunity to order a chef’s tasting menu (I would highly recommend it!), you may find they serve sorbet between courses. In this context, sorbet functions as a palate cleanser. It provides an intermission of sorts by removing any lingering flavors of the previous course. It also perks up your taste buds for the next round of food. And, as an added bonus, not only will the delicate scoop of sorbet placed before you be refreshing, it’ll be beautiful, too. The base of the dessert is generally fruit juice, and the colors are typically vibrant, resulting in an undeniably irresistible combination.
Like the idea of a sorbet happy hour? Add a splash of rum.
2 cups sugar
4 cups water
10 sprigs of mint
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup rum
4 limes, zested*
2 tablespoons mint chiffonade**
In a saucepan, combine water, sugar, and mint sprigs.
Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce to simmer for about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and let mixture stand for about 10 minutes.
Strain mixture through a fine sieve.
Add lime juice, rum, and lime zest to the mint syrup.
Once chilled, add to the ice cream maker and blend to perfection.
Note: Since this recipe contains rum, the end product will be softer in texture than a regular sorbet.
Scoop into small dishes, or as I’ve used here, snappy little shot glasses – a subtle nod to the rum.
Garnish with mint sprigs, mint chiffonade, or as I’ve noted below, rosemary flowers, or whatever else you feel might be fun.***
I also added a raw sugar cane stick to each glass for a kick of height and color.
*Even if you don’t do a great deal of citrus zesting, you can still invest in a microplane. I use mine to finely grate hard cheeses as well.
**A mint chiffonade is finely chopped or sliced mint. Chefs typically stack the leaves and cut them into thin strips with a sharp knife. I use herb shears.
***I love to use ingredients from my garden. On my shots of sorbet I used lemon mint and rosemary flowers. And as I’ve already mentioned, the raw sugar cane, although store-bought, adds nice height and color to the presentation.
Sit back, relax, and refresh with this simple recipe, and remember: Sorbet isn’t just for summer! You can use this recipe, or a version of your own (it’s fun to experiment!), year round as an easy intro to a new course during your next dinner party, or as a dairy-free dessert perfect for friends with sensitive tummies. Or enjoy it as a fun, simple treat any time you crave something sweet.
– Elizabeth Fox, LA-based catering manager, guest contributor