Sorbet is so light. Ice cream is so heavy.
Sorbet is so pungent. Ice cream is so creamy.
Why can’t there be anything in the middle?
Oh, but there is.
Those pastel rainbows sold in plastic tubs at supermarkets have tarnished what is really a very pleasant dessert. Like homemade sorbet and ice cream, sherbert can be made with any variety of natural flavorings. Usually made of milk (and sometimes cream), fruit juice/puree, and egg whites, sherbert has a snowy consistency, which melts into a creamy milky pool. The mint sherbert that I made also had a sprightly fresh mint flavor to boot.
It’s hard to find a satisfying dessert that is neither too rich nor too lean. The choice is usually between something in either the chocolate cake camp or the bowl of berries camp, or mixing the two together for balance. Sherbert already has that balance, so you can have a bowl and feel good–neither stuffed nor unsatisfied. That’s not to say that it has to be served alone. It’s recommended that the mint sherbert that I made below should be served with warm figs in Chartreuse and honey. No dice on figs this time of year, though in the fall, during fig season, it would be a wonderful choice.
There is the raw egg white factor to consider, but sherbert is no more dangerous than ice creams that contains egg yolks. You can either get pasteurized eggs, or as I did, use fresh eggs from a trusted supplier whose healthy chickens are fed organically, are cage free, fed Omega-3, and generally live the good life. Alternatively, Lebovitz suggests simply excluding them.
By the way, this is the first time I used my ice cream maker. No longer will I be thwarted by recipes with that cliffhanger, “freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.”
The mint sherbet:
4 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves, (about 1/2 large bunch), crushed, plus a few extra set aside for chopping and folding into the finished sherbet
3 egg whites, at room temperature
14 fresh figs (about 1 pound)
3 tablespoons green Chartreuse
2 tablespoons honey
1. To make the mint sherbet: Warm the milk, sugar, and 1 cup mint leaves. Remove from the heat, cover, and steep for 1 hour.
2. Strain the milk, squeezing the mint leaves to extract all the flavor. Discard the leaves and chill the mixture thoroughly before freezing.
3. To freeze, whip the egg whites until they stand in soft peaks and fold them into the chilled mint-infused milk. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
4. Finely ship the extra mint leaves and fold them into the just-frozen sherbet.
5. To bake the figs: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
6. Slice the figs in half and place them in a baking dish. Add the Chartreuse and honey and toss to coat the figs. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes, until the figs are cooked through, tossing them in their liquid once or twice during baking. Serve warm with scoops of mint sherbet.
Note: If you have concerns about using uncooked egg whites, make the sherbet without them.