Last week a woman at work brought in a bunch of teeny tiny lemons from her tree at home. I considered them all week, and when there were still a bunch left on Sunday night, I grabbed them. What do you do when the office gives you lemons? Make sherbert, of course.
Years ago I stumbled upon a recipe in one of my mom’s Cook’s Illustrated magazines for fruit sherbert. The main recipe was for orange, but I was more interested in the lime version, which has become my go-to frozen dessert recipe. Then last year I had the most amazing lemon mint sherbert at a wonderful ice cream shop in Berkeley called Ici and I thought, I must recreate this at home. I remembered that my favorite lime sherbert recipe had a lemon variation, and due to its unique way of infusing flavor into the sugar using a food processor, I thought it was just asking to have mint added to it.
I have some peppermint growing in a pot on my deck, and some spearmint (that’s what you find in stores sold as fresh mint) from the farmer’s market, so the sherbet was practically asking to be made. Like all Cook’s Illustrated recipes, it seems complicated with a lot of steps (a food processor and a mixer?), but just do what they say and it’ll be amazing. Trust me.
Lemon Mint Sherbert
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
zest of 1 or 2 lemons
big handful of fresh mint leaves (use more than I have pictured, I didn’t put enough in for my taste)
2/3 cup lemon juice plus 1 1/2 cups of water
2 tsp triple sec or vodka (optional)
2/3 cup heavy cream
Put the sugar in the bowl of a food processor and add the zest and the mint leaves. Process in 1-2 second bursts until the sugar looks damp and is starting to clump a little. With the processor running, add the lemon juice/water and process until the sugar is dissolved. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and add the alcohol if using (it makes the final texture of the sherbert a little smoother but isn’t necessary). Stick the mixture in the freezer for a half hour or so, until it’s really cold but not at all frozen.
Whip the cream just until it firms up a bit and makes soft peaks, but isn’t quite whipped-cream consistency (it doesn’t take long, keep an eye on it! I always mess up this part). With the mixer on low, add the cold juice mixture to the cream in a slow, steady stream down the side of the bowl. Then immediately dump the whole mixture into your ice cream maker and start churning.
Once it’s gotten a little past soft-serve consistency, or your machine has stopped, pack it into a freezer-safe covered bowl and freeze for a few hours. If you can wait longer than that to eat it (I can’t!) and it’s been in the freezer a while, let it soften up at room temperature for a bit – it’s best served fairly soft.
For the lime version, substitute lime juice and zest for the lemon juice and zest, and omit the mint. Or leave it in, I haven’t tried it but I’m sure it’d be good – like a mojito! Mmmmm…
Oh yes, I did also make dinner (though the idea of just eating sherbert did cross my mind). I made these Indonesian Grilled Chicken Thighs with Mango Salsa, and served them with naan, grilled eggplant and summer squash (the last of it, I’m afraid), and a sort of raita made with Greek yogurt and a homemade Indian sweet-pickle relish. So good! Good enough, in fact, to eat it all before thinking to take pictures. Oh well. Luckily ice cream is a slow process or there would be no photographic menu documentation at all!