One of my favorite summer treats was a "half and half" (now popularly called an "Arnold Palmer"): a mixture of ice tea and lemonade. The tea cuts the sweetness of the lemonade and provides a subtle, almost smoky complexity to the drink. For me, it's singularly refreshing and conjures up images of lazy afternoons, lounging on my grandma's front porch, playing the occasional hand of euchre and just generally enjoying the company of family.
Recently, a good friend asked for a recipe for a frozen treat using lemons. I confess, I've never made lemon ice cream. But I dug up a recipe for lemon sorbet from Cook's Illustrated and passed it along. The key to creamy sorbet is (a) don't skimp on the sugar and (b) add a tablespoon of liquor -- vodka is a good choice, because it doesn't have any flavor. Both sugar and alcohol inhibit freezing, so your sorbet won't turn into a chunk of ice.
|A Perfect Pairing|
* Cook's Illustrated offered half a dozen sorbet recipes, and they said the key is to use about 1/2 a cup of sugar per cup of fruit/liquid. More tart fruit needs a little more sugar, sweeter fruit (like watermelon) requires a little less. Lemon is pretty tart, so this recipe uses 1 1/4 c. sugar instead of just 1 cup.
Anyway, I decided to experiment, and the experiment was a huge success. Some of the sorbet managed to hide in our freezer for a whole week, but we still scoopable and creamy when I pulled it out. This sorbet is unusual, but so delicious. And one spoonful took me back to my grandma's front porch.
Porch Swing Sorbet
1 1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 1/2 c. cold brewed tea (decaf is fine, the stronger the better!)
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 Tbs. vodka
Combine sugar and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Whisk in liquids until sugar dissolves. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, until completely chilled. Strain to remove any bits of lemon pulp and the pieces of lemon zest.
Freeze liquid in an ice cream maker until the consistency of cake frosting. Transfer to plastic container. Cover with plastic wrap pressed against the surface of the sorbet, then seal with an air-tight lid. Freeze about 3 hours (or more).