Wednesday, September 3, 2008

CSA - Lemon basil avocado sorbet

After my failure with last week's avocado sherbet I wanted to jump back on the horse, but a) other than the problems with the lavender I was happy with the results in general and I wasn't interested in doing it again immediately and b) I didn't have quite enough avocado left. So instead I decided to add a bit of avocado to lemon sorbet to see what happens. I've never made a citrus sorbet before so that was interesting in itself as well.

My initial research turned up lots of different lemon sorbet recipes on-line which varied surprisingly widely on how much lemon and how much sugar to use. With the variation in lemons' size and flavor and not having tried this before I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do. Lebovitz's Perfect Scoop hasn't let me down yet so that seemed a safe starting point. He was one of the few recipe authors who described the resulting flavor--"tangy"--plus his was the only recipe that specified mixing in the lemon juice at the last minute. I don't know how that would be important, but it shows he's been thinking, anyway.

So I started with 1/2 cup of water, a cup of sugar and the zest from one really big lemon. I heated that up until the sugar was dissolved. Then I poured that into a blender along with about 3/4 cup of avocado and enough more water to bring the volume up to 2 1/2 cups.

After blending, I was a bit surprised to see that the mix wasn't letting go of its air bubbles. That uneven reflection you can see in the picture is from the knobbly bubbly surface of the mix. I had no idea avocado was a foam stabilizer. This was a good sign.

While that was chilling, it was time to get a cup of juice. Or it would be if I hadn't decided that I wanted all the pulp too. Most sorbets get some additional texture from the solid bits of the fruit and I wanted to add that here if I could. So I ended up doing some careful microsurgery to peel a few lemons and either peel away the connective membranes or cut supremes. Once I had a cup I decided not to run it through the blender as I had originally planned. I liked the idea of little packets of pure lemon juice mixed in with the sweetened sorbet around it. So I just mushed up lemon bits to release about half the juice but leave the rest encapsulated. And that got chilled too.

The next day they got mixed and into the churn. This is when I got an inkling that I may have made a mistake. The freezing process, usually so elegant for sorbets, was ugly and clumpy. Who really wants texture in a sorbet anyway? Well, too late to back out now.

To add a bit more interest to the flavor, just before the mix was done churning I added a quarter cup of chopped fresh basil. Visually, the flecks of green are quite nice, but it's more to chew on which, again, might not have been the best idea. But too late now.

After churning, I ripened it in the freezer and here's the results. I still like the look, but, yeah, the texture isn't great. There is nice smooth sorbet, but it's got chunks of frozen lemon, bits of loose pulp and little leaves floating in it. I'm of half a mind to melt it down, run it through the blender and churn it again.
Now I'm of a full mind to do it.

So, before:


and afterer:

and even afterer:

The texture is much improved with that perfect creaminess that I'm still amazed that sorbet can achieve. Maybe it's frozen up a little more solidly than your average sorbet. There wasn't any alcohol included so that hurt it but maybe the avocado helped? Further investigation is required.

The basil flavor is now well distributed and maybe there's a hint of avocado there too. You can tell that straight lemon sorbet would be like a piece of hard candy: just citrus and sweet melting on the tongue. The basil makes it significantly more interesting. The flavors aren't blended into anything synergistic--the lemon and basil are clearly distinguishable--but they go well together and take the edge off each other. Italian sweet basil would probably have worked better than the Thai basil I've got. Lemon basil would probably have worked better still. But I've got what I've got and what I've got is certainly plenty nice on a hot Miami day. I may revisit this when the CSA supplies some Italian basil. Maybe I'll use lime instead. ...Argh, I just did a quick Google and found that Jaime Oliver does a basil lime sorbet and Emeril does a basil lemon. OK, I've been saving a perfectly unique ice cream idea and it's going up next in the line-up. Watch this space.

1 comment:

kat said...

Oh it turned out beautiful & sounds really good. I did some watermelon granita with basil & it really does add such a wonderful flavor doesn't it.?