Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lemon & Basil Sorbet With Shortbread Biscuits

I bought an ice cream maker about 2 months ago with the intention of making my own frozen yogurt, which at the time didn't really work - in fairness, I didn't use a recipe so it was my fault. So naturally, I stuck the ice cream maker in dark corner because I was frustrated and forgot about it. When I finally pulled it out again last week, I decided to use a proper recipe and make sorbet, but what I noticed is that most sorbet recipes have one thing in common: equal parts sugar and water heated and boiled. I didn't want to go out into the cold (it's freezing here in London) so I came up with this recipe (I'm sure someone has done it before) because I didn't have any of the ingredients the others asked for. What I did have was 1 lemon and some dried basil, so on a leap of faith, I decided to spend my time on this unlikely choice. Most people seem to use lime and fresh basil, so I wasn't quite sure how this would turn out, but it's amazing!

Sorbet in a store can be quite expensive, so this recipe is great for people who are eating on a budget as it probably costs about the equivalent of £1.50 (maybe even less) to make enough for 4 people to enjoy. Or if you're having a rough day, no shame in eating it all by yourself on the couch while watching The Notebook... The choice is yours!

Serves 4 to 6...


1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
1 lemon (large if possible)
About 1 teaspoon of dried basil
Shortbread Biscuits for serving if desired


1. To get started, grab a lemon zester and zest the whole lemon. I like this type of lemon zester because it gives you little curly strings of lemon zest that look pretty in the sorbet once it sets, but if you'd rather use a microplane or grater, that's fine too. It's up to you.

2. Once you've zested the entire lemon, set aside.

3. Now cut the lemon in half and juice it. You will use all of the juice of one lemon. Discard the lemon after juicing.

4. Put the lemon zest into the juice and give it a little stir with a fork. Set aside.

5. Now it's time to go to the stove. Pour the water and sugar into a medium saucepan and heat on medium until boiling, stirring occasionally.

6. Continue to boil for about 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Pour into a large bowl and allow to cool for about 5 or 10 minutes.

7. Once the sugar water has cooled slightly, whisk in lemon juice & zest lightly.

8. Mix in about a teaspoon of dried basil.

9. Once it's all mixed together, I find it's easiest to pour it into a spouted measuring cup unless you have a mixing bowl with a spout on it already. Otherwise, you'll end up pouring lemony sugar water all over your kitchen (this might have happened to me the first time...).

10. Then plug in your ice cream maker and turn it on - leave it on for a few seconds with no mixture inside, then slowly pour the mixture into the slot on the top of the ice cream maker. It's important that the machine is on before you pour in your sorbet mixture so it doesn't freeze on contact.

11. Timing here depends on your ice cream maker. It should take at least 1/2 hour to start to freeze - mine took about 45 minutes. Once the mixture starts to freeze up, you'll need to transfer it to the freezer to get firm.

12. Any freezer-proof tupperware will work. Just pour it in and pop it in the freezer. It should firm up completely in about 2 hours, but again, this depends on your freezer. When I made this, I put it in the freezer at about 3pm and it was firm and ready to serve by 5pm.

The lemon zest and basil give the finished product some beautiful colors, not to mention gorgeous flavors! I love serving this with shortbread biscuits because the sweet nicely balances the sour and savory flavors in the sorbet, however it's perfectly lovely on its own. If you can't easily get shortbread where you live, it's really easy to make. Try this recipe.

You may think that an ice cream maker is very expensive, but I bought mine for £10 at Robert Dyas and it works just fine - it's cheaper than a cinema ticket. You only need a small one for this recipe and as I said before, most sorbet recipes use this sugar and water mixture so you could certainly experiment with other flavors! Happy cooking!

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