Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mango colada sherbet

After my (entirely incidentally low-fat, low-calorie and vegan) piña colada sherbet surpassed expectations so spectacularly a couple weeks ago I've been eager to try some variations both because they'll probably taste really good and to figure out exactly what I did right.

This week, with the bounty of mangoes from both festivals and backyards, the variation to try was obvious. I could have just switched out the bananas, but I decided to increase the amount of mango. I wanted the mangoes to be predominant and also I was using freezer-burnt pre-packed pineapple chunks instead of the really nice fresh pineapple I had last time so best if they don't stand out too much. Also, I changed up the fiddly bits to match the new flavors. As I'm newly educated as to mango varieties I gave the sort to use a bit of thought. I wanted something with a bit of fiber to help the sherbet thicken, sweet so I can use less sugar and with a bold flavor as the cold tends to tone things down. But after all that thought I remembered that I didn't actually have a lot of options and I used the mangoes a co-worker brought in. Close enough.

Here's what I came up with:

1 1/2 cups chopped mango (extra-ripe mushy bits are fine. It's all going into the blender)
1 cup chopped pineapple
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar (or 1/4 cup Splenda blend)
juice from 1/2 lime
2 Tablespoons light rum
1 pinch salt
1 dash dried ginger powder (or equivalent in ground fresh ginger. I have a dried ginger root that I grated using a microplane.)
1 dash cinnamon (fresh grated again is better)
1 dash allspice (you could probably use a spice grinder on dried allspice berries if you wanted. I haven't tried it so I don't know if it makes much of a difference.)

Put it all in a blender. Blend smooth. Chill to 40 degrees F. Churn and ripen.

I also chopped a frozen banana into 1/2 inch cubes and mixed it in as I removed the sherbet from the churn, but that's optional.

The results are about as good as the original piña colada, which is to say very good indeed. Each bite starts with pineapple, fades into mango and lingers with the richness of the spices unless you get a bite with banana which takes over as the mango fades and gives a nice chew to contrast with the creamy melt-away smoothness of the sherbet. This would work perfectly in bellinis with a particularly dry champagne. The sweetness of the sherbet isn't cloying but it lingers and it could use something to cut through. Failing the champagne, a cup of coffee isn't a bad idea.

So it looks like the bananas weren't necessary to the texture of the sherbet. I'll have to compare coconut milk and milk milk to see how much difference that substitution makes both to texture and to healthiness. Coconut oil is just about the least healthy fat out there and while I don't think it's made from the same bits coconut milk is I can't imagine the fat in coconut milk is any better. Luckily there's not a heck of a lot of it in one cup. Substituting in real milk would also expand the possible flavors beyond the tropical. Like I said, I'll have to give this some consideration.

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