It is me, Alexandre-Ciorstaidh the crazy Bretonne. Today I am going to give you a few ideas about making exotic ice creams and sorbets. Having so many grandchildren and great-grandchildren ice cream and sorbet making has become almost a full time job as the little ones cannot get enough of either.
So this page is dedicated to some of my recipes for ice cream, sorbets, and frozen desserts, as well as my tips and tricks.
Whilst at cookery school I was taught about Brix, Baume and other technical ways to measure sugar in sorbet solutions so they will freeze, but not become a solid brick of ice. After school, once I could afford it, I bought a Refractometer, which shows me the sugar content in a solution. This way I can mix up a batch of any kind of fruit sorbet, add some simple syrup and the sorbet will be a success. But, what if you are just making sorbet a couple times a year, do you really need such a geeky, expensive gadget? Not unless you are a kitchen equipment hoarder, like me.
The hardest thing I found was preventing the product turning into a frozen brick until somebody told me about stabilizers. Beware there are two types an Ice Cream stabilizer and a Sorbet stabilizer – they are NOT interchangeable. Primarily, stabilizers interfere with ice crystal formation, helping to keep the crystals small and — hopefully — undetectable to the tongue. The upshot is the sorbet has a smoother texture. However stabilizers also offer another benefit. They reduce the flow of the mixtures they’re added to, making them thicker than they would otherwise be. This added thickness helps improve the overall experience of eating an ice cream or a sorbet by slowing down the rate at which the mixtures run as they melt. The upshot is that the eater can spend more time licking the semi-solid sorbet off the sides of the scoop, and less time hunting for napkins to sop up the liquid cream or syrup that’s running down over his (her?) knuckles.
Which goes to highlight another very important fact about food additives. The standard narrative about them holds that food makers are big, greedy corporations looking to cut costs wherever they can (presumably so their executives can afford to buy more luxury yacht fuel. They’re too cheap to use “real” ingredients, so they stuff their products with cost-saving artificial substances. The fact is that in many (probably most) instances, food makers put in additives not in an attempt to substitute them for natural ingredients, but to make our experience of certain ingredients better.
Now, those sorts of attempts can be misguided to be sure. Putting additives in foods is by no means always the right thing to do. My point, however, is that the inclusion of additives usually represents an attempt to create a positive experience for a consumer, rather than to rip that consumer off.