Summertime Dessert: Fresh Strawberry Sorbet with Almond “Soup”

I used to hate sorbets.  To me, a sorbet was nothing more than frozen water flavored with some neon-colored sugar water; an affront to ice cream.  If the king and queen of desserts had a bastard child….it would be the sorbet.  I mean, who could possibly love some icy, crunchy, cloyingly sweet sham of a dish?  The inventor of the sorbet should be shot.  There was absolutely nothing that was going to convince me that this shaved ice look-alike was worthy of as an after-dinner sweet.  Nothing until I read this article from Serious Eats about the science behind the sorbet.

To an extent, I was right.  The sorbet is nothing more than a pureed fruit sweetened with sugar and frozen.  What I didn’t know was that the abominations I’ve had as a child were such because of two factors: 1) using fruits of a poor quality (or worse…some fruit “substitute”) and 2) incorrect proportions in terms of sugar.  Intrigued by the author’s description of a “creamy” and “jammy” sorbet, I decided to give it a go, buying a few quarts of strawberries at Whole Foods.  The process of making it was actually quite simple and so let’s keep this short and sweet (no pun intended).

INGREDIENTS:
For the sorbet:
– 4 lbs. of the best strawberries you can find, roughly chopped (one of those Driscoll packs is a lb. if that helps)
– 2 c. sugar (I used organic light brown but feel free to use regular white)
– pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice

………….and that’s it!  Unlike its cousin the ice cream that relies on cream and eggs, a sorbet should taste exactly like the fruit it’s made of and nothing more.

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For the almond “soup” (adapted from Ferran Adria’s “The Family Meal”):
– 1 2/3 c. almonds, roughly chopped (I wrapped mine in a dish towel and beat the hell out of it with a heavy pan)
– 2 1/2 c. water
– 2 tbsp. sugar
– Handful of blueberries or similar fruit (opt.)

Originally used by Adria to drizzle over a nougat ice cream, I thought it’d be a good way to add a little creaminess to the dish and as a spin to the nuts some people add to their sorbets.

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METHOD:
1) The night before, soak the almonds in the water so that on the day you’re making the sorbet, you can blend it into a smooth liquid.  As I used a weak hand blender, mine still had large chunks in it.  That’s OK.  Pass the entire mixture through a sieve so all you’re left with is a smooth liquid that looks like a thicker almond milk.  Whisk in the sugar.  Do NOT throw away the remaining almond pulp.

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2) Blend the strawberries into a smooth puree.  Pour the sugar in and blend again.

3) That’s it.  Freeze it.  Now ideally, you’d follow the one step in over 99% of the recipes that infuriates me as I’m too broke to follow it: “Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions”.  But absent the funds for one, you can just chuck it in the freezer, hand-churning it every hour or so.

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4) To plate, let sorbet sit for a few minutes on your counter to soften.  Scoop out, drizzle a bit of the almond soup around it and top with a bit of almond pulp and berries.

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With the right ingredients and proportions, the sorbet is actually one of the highest praises fresh fruit can receive.  So yes…that day, I made a sorbet so creamy and jammy that for once, I had to resist knocking on the neighbor’s door and shoving it in their unsuspecting mouth.  Halfway through my second bowl on a hot weekend afternoon, I revised my earlier statement: the inventor of the sorbet isn’t deserving of punishment….it’s the person who convinced me that the garbage of my yesteryears was the real deal who is!

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