The weather is finally starting to feel springlike here in California, as opposed to the oppressive stretch of mid 90's a few weeks back that all but melted the greater LA area. When I lived in Virginia, this turn in the weather could mean only one thing... the return of the ice cream man. Our neighborhood ice cream truck was unlike ones I remembered from my youth. This was a rusty van with all the proper ice cream truck accoutrements; doors emblazoned with enticing pictures of heat relieving goodies, a kindly man in a funny hat happily serving ice cream to the masses, and a loudspeaker blaring music. This truck however, played creepy, slightly off pitch tunes that I'm hard pressed to associate with ice cream trucks, namely the theme from St. Elmo's Fire. In a twangy minor key, it sounded like it belonged more on a scary Halloween music CD than on a child attracting ice cream truck. I have yet to run across an ice cream truck here in my neighborhood here in CA, but I'm finding myself craving a bowl, cone or scoop of something creamy and cool in the evenings. Ice cream doesn't always fit into my plan to be more healthful. Good thing there are plenty of delicious options to concoct when it comes to frozen treats.
Sorbet, gelato, frozen yogurt, granita... the non ice cream alternatives abound. Sorbet is the purest of the frozen delicacies, combining mainly fruit and sugar, with the occasional pinch of salt or squirt of lemon juice. This was going to be the way to satisfy my sweet tooth without serving up a helping of unhealthy, albeit tasty, fat based frozen treat.
A few disclaimers before you read any further. 1. I do not own an ice cream maker. As many recipes call for "following the directions provided by your ice cream maker manufacturer", it left me out in the cold. No pun intended. If you do have an ice cream maker, by all means use it. 2. Surprise suprise, I've never made sorbet before. Two to three ingredients, no fancy combination or mixing techniques, how hard can it be?
Strawberries and chocolate are hands down my favorite berry and sweet combination. This however, runs a close second.
Strawberry Balsamic Sorbet
1 lb hulled and quartered strawberries, fresh or frozen
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Wash, hull and quarter strawberries into a bowl. Add sugar and balsamic. Mix until sugar begins to dissolve into strawberries. Let stand, covered, for 30 minutes. Puree mixture in food processor. Strain strawberry mixture through a fine mesh strainer, if desired. Pour into bowl, cover and freeze. Stir mixture every 30 minutes or so for the first two hours. Freeze 4-6 hours total, serve and enjoy.
There is something to be said for the purity of using just three ingredients to produce something so refreshingly simple and delicious. I chose not to strain the strawberry seeds out of the sorbet base, however if your preference is the smooth frozen texture of sorbet, invest in a fine mesh strainer. The flavor was intensely strawberry, and not too sweet as I feared with that amount sugar. Surprisingly, the balsamic flavor shone through much more pre-freeze than in the finished product. I loved the contrast of the sweet berry and the luxe richness of the balsamic. I will up the balsamic content in the next attempt. This was so simple and so delicious, I'll certainly be trying other flavorful sorbet combinations soon.