August 7, 2010

Watermelon Sorbet

Do you like sorbet?

Wait, don't stop reading!  If you answered "no" to that question, I would venture to guess that it is because you are picturing yourself standing in an ice cream shop choosing between 30 rich, chocolate-ly, caramel-ribboned, peanut butter-chunk-studded ice cream options and well, um, sorbet.  Homemade sorbet is so much different than that. Picture yourself standing in the comfort of your own kitchen: a couple minutes with a blender and an ice cream maker, then sitting down to a nice meal with loved ones, a perfect, light summery dessert ready to woo your guests when the main course is finished.

This recipe is one of those happy kitchen accidents.  You see, before this accident, I was a sorbet-hater too.  But once upon a time I put half of a watermelon in the fridge and it got shoved back to the coldest part of the compartment when I wasn't looking.  When I pulled it out a few days later, the melon flesh had frozen, so that the texture was grainy falling apart, no longer pleasing for eating out of hand.  Being frugal to a fault, I had to at least try to salvage it, so I scooped out the flesh and whizzed it in the blender with some simple syrup and lime juice.  Then I churned the puree in the ice cream maker and the result was a luscious summer dessert so good I've actually made it on purpose since then.

Sorbet is a fruit puree churned in an ice cream maker.  It must be eaten as soon as it is finished churning, because, being-fat free, if you moved it to the freezer it would freeze solidly and, well, not be so great. (Unless, of course, you froze it in popsicles molds...)

Watermelon Sorbet

Makes about 1 quart, 4 generous servings or 6 sophisticated scoops.

1/3 of a large watermelon (or 1 small watermelon), enough to yield about 4 cups of puree.
1/4 cup blue agave sweetener or 1/3 cup simple syrup
juice of 1/2 a lime, about 2 tablespoons

Cut watermelon into chunks and remove seeds, placing chunks into blender as you work.  When blended, watermelon flesh will decrease in volume, so blend it and add more melon if needed to reach the 3 1/2 cup mark.  Add blue agave sweetener and lime juice and blend to combine into a smooth puree.  I have an old blender and this takes about 10 seconds, so it may be instantaneous in yours.  Taste and add more sweetener if you feel it necessary.

Transfer puree to ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturers instructions until soft and scoop-able (about 20 minutes in my Cuisinart).  Serve immediately.

Blue Agave Sweetener vs. Simple Syrup

Blue Agave is the same plant that tequila is made from.  This liquid sweetener has gained popularity in recent years.  It is sweeter than sugar and more pour-able than honey.  A number of health claims are made about agave, and I have no knowledge about which claims may or may not be true.  It has a unique, pleasant flavor.  I just happened to have it on hand, but simple syrup works fine in this recipe as well.

Simple Syrup is a mixture of 1 part sugar and 1 part water, simmered until the sugar melts. It keeps indefintely in the refrigerator and is nice to have on hand for sweetening iced drinks, when granulated sugar would just sink to the bottom of the glass.

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