Ever since I inherited my grandparents’ aging, workhorse gelato machine two years ago, I’ve become slightly obsessed with making ice cream. I’ve tried all different kinds of ice cream bases (for the record, custard is my favorite), and I’ve tested dozens of flavor combinations: Thai Peanut, Mexican Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Saffron-Infused Coconut, Blue Cheese with Spicy Candied Pecans, Bourbon Pumpkin, Olive Oil & Sea Salt, Goat Cheese and Fig, and that’s just a few of my successful creations! I’ve made mistakes, messed around with fat content, and suffered through weirdly textured ice creams and odd flavors, sometimes – to my intense mortification – when we had dinner guests. Despite all of that, there’s one lesson I’ve learned: Ice cream is like pizza, even when it’s not that good…it’s still pretty good.
The other hiccup in my new hobby is that I’m a little bit lactose intolerant, so I can’t actually eat much of the ice cream that I make. A few spoonfuls is about all I get unless I want to spend the rest of the evening in low-grade intestinal distress. Too much information? To save myself that trouble (and keep my waistline in check!), I’ve started playing around with sorbets. I love the bracing freshness of sorbet, or at least the ones I make. I like to balance the necessary sugar with some good acid to keep the flavors bright and clean.
In all of my testing, I’ve become convinced that a little bit of booze is the key to perfect ice cream and sorbet. A little Kahlua in my chocolate ice cream, bourbon in my pumpkin, whiskey in my goat cheese ice cream, and a splash of gin in this sorbet. The spirits provide another dimension of flavor, but the alcohol also seems to keep ice creams and sorbets soft, smooth, and creamy – not just the first day you make them but many days afterward. And, to me, there is nothing more satisfying that spooning month-old ice cream out of a container and finding it just as creamy and soft as the day you churned it. Though I may owe part of that magic to my grandparents’ machine, I think adding the alcohol has helped immensely.
This cranberry sorbet is aromatic, a little piney, and sweet-tart. It’s kind of like walking through an evergreen forest on a cold, cloudless day sipping a cocktail, which sounds like a pretty great way to spend time if you ask me. This sorbet makes a perfect light holiday dessert or a fun, refreshing palate-cleanser during Thanksgiving dinner. Not matter how you eat it, I hope you enjoy a little something cold during the most wonderful time of year!
- 1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 ½ cups sugar, divided
- ¾ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- 4 teaspoons aromatic gin, such as Bombay Sapphire
- In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the cranberries, 2 cups of water, and ½ cup of the sugar. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have burst, about 15 minutes.
- In a food processor or blender, purée the cranberry mixture until smooth. Press the cranberries through a fine mesh strainer and into a bowl. Discard the solids, cover the bowl, and chill until cold, about 2 hours.
- In another saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the remaining 1 cup of sugar with 1 ½ cups of water. Simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved. Turn off the heat, add the rosemary, and stir to combine. Cover the pan and let the syrup steep for 30 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer and into a container. Cover and refrigerate until cold.
- When ready to churn the sorbet, stir together the cranberry puree, rosemary syrup, lemon and orange juices, and gin. Churn in your ice cream freezer until the sorbet is the consistency of soft serve ice cream. Transfer to a container and freeze until solid.