The trickiest thing about sherbet is just learning how to pronounce it. Sherbet? Sherbert? It’s definitely sherbet.
I was inspired to try my hand at sherbet when a newly pregnant friend mentioned to me that she’d been craving it. It does seem like a food that would inspire cravings, doesn’t it?
Alton Brown’s Orange Sherbet
Who doesn’t love Alton Brown? I miss watching his show, Good Eats. Aside from his reputation, it was the simplicity of the recipe that drew me to it. The main ingredients are milk, orange juice, and sugar. The recipe yielded a very icy sherbet, similar in texture to a sorbet. (As it happens, sherbet and sorbet are both frozen treats made with fruit juice, but sherbet contains dairy and sorbet does not.) The flavor was clean and bright, balanced by vanilla.
In my opinion, the make or break moment for homemade ice cream is how well it freezes. Straight out of the ice cream maker you’ll have a very pleasing soft serve. But for a recipe to really prove itself, it must spend some time in the freezer and become something scoopable and spoonable, able to stand up to a cone or a sundae. One of my (many) quirks is that I like hard ice cream and loathe melted ice cream. However, after freezing for a few hours my batch of Alton’s recipe was too hard to scoop. I began taking it out of the freezer 30 minutes before I wanted to eat it, just to let it thaw a little.
I suspect that I didn’t allow the mixture to chill long enough before putting it in my ice cream maker. I use this model, which uses a pre-frozen bowl, and chilling the ice cream base is a pretty standard step. But I think this recipe would’ve frozen fairly hard regardless, due to it’s low fat content.
Another thing that bothered me about both these recipes is they tell you to use your food processor to puree the orange zest, juice, and sugar. If your food processor is like mine, it will only hold a cup or two of liquid without making a huge mess. Some food processors are built so that the center piece that holds the blade and bowl together is sealed against spilling liquids, so if that’s the case with your food processor, then away you go. But I had to use my blender for this step. Not a problem, just should have been mentioned in the recipe text.
Despite of, or maybe because of this recipes’s tough, icy composition, I was inspired to try something new with it. I scooped it into a tall glass and poured cold sparkling seltzer water over it. I don’t know if this has a name. I suppose it’s akin to an ice cream float. But it was delicious, and because I used sparkling water instead of a sweetened soda, it had the same amount of calories as eating the sherbet alone. Under the (false) impression that I invented this drink, I experienced the added bonus of a rush of creative satisfaction, though maybe that was just the bubbles.
Brown Eyed Baker’s Orange Sherbet
This recipe is accompanied by a bittersweet story about the author’s dad, and the recipe turned out terrific, so I liked it all around. This time I didn’t bother fresh-squeezing the orange juice. (Except for the oranges I used for zesting.) I buy No Pulp Not From Concentrate Orange Juice from Trader Joe’s, and I’m confident in its flavor. I also don’t have a proper orange juicer, so the flavor differential was not great enough to justify the effort.
Another thing I appreciate about this recipe is it has you strain the juice and zest mixture after pureeing it, which relieves you of picking tiny bits of zest from your teeth later on.
Here’s my adaptation of the Brown Eyed Baker recipe:
FIG’s Orange Sherbet
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups orange juice
- 2 and 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup heavy cream*
- *This measurement is just slightly under what’s contained in the half pint containers sold in grocery stores. I was left with four tablespoons of heavy cream. You could try using the entire half pint container and tasting the mixture before you freeze it. If the extra dairy throws off the balance of flavor you could add a little extra orange or lemon juice. Or you can follow the recipe and find something else to do with your four tablespoons of heavy cream.
- In a blender (or food processor if yours works with liquids) mix the orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, orange zest, and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a medium sized bowl. (A bowl or measuring cup with a lip for pouring works best.) Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer until the mixture reaches 40 degrees, but don’t let it freeze. This will take 30 to 60 minutes, though mine was closer to 30 minutes.
- Once the mixture is cold, add the heavy cream and vanilla extract to the bowl of an electric mixer (or a mixing bowl if using a hand mixer) and whip until soft peaks form. Very slowly pour the cold orange mixture down the side of the mixing bowl and mix on a low setting until it is fully incorporated into the cream.
- Now, add the mixture to the ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. With my Cuisinart it takes about 25 minutes to freeze to a nice soft serve consistency. You can eat it at this stage and no one would judge you for it. Or you can pour the soft-frozen mixture into a freezer safe container with an airtight lid and freeze it until it’s firm, at least three hours.
A few tips:
• I like to pre-freeze the agitator along with the freezer bowl to maximize coldness.
• I also like to pre-freeze the container I’ll be using to store the sherbet or ice cream. This cuts down on the melting that occurs when you pour in the soft-frozen mixture.
• Brown Eyed Baker’s recipe calls for Triple Sec, which I’m sure is delicious. I didn’t have any on hand, so I didn’t use it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
Here’s to thumbing your nose at winter and indulging in a frozen treat!
Thanks for reading!