Two Sorbets - Thumbs Up (and Down)

7 September 2005

Because the summer seems to have decided to stay a bit longer in the UK, and even though my ice-cream machine works hard all year around, it has to work even harder during this warm weather. I’ve made quite a lot of sorbets this summer – mainly using various berries and I thought that this recipe, from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer, had quite an interesting flavour. It’s a really boozy redcurrant sorbet and I don’t think you can eat lots at a time like ice-cream, but it’s so refreshing and um, slushy (it is called redcurrant slush sorbet, after all).

I liked the idea of cooking the fruit before you puree it, I think you can get a more concentrated flavour by doing this. I adapted the recipe (much less sugar and alcohol, as you may guess) but the liqueur still lent a strong taste to it and it’s definitely an adult version.

Another recipe I tried was this bittersweet chocolate sorbet from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé, one of my favourite books. I’m a big fan of chocolate sorbet, so I was really looking forward to making it. Although I was a little surprised that you add quite a lot of water compared to the quantity of chocolate, because I’m a devoted fan of PH, I had no doubts and did what it said in the recipe. And the result? Um, I must say I wasn’t very impressed… It suggests using Valrhona Guanaja for this, but I used Manjari instead as it was the only one I could get at the time. As I expected, it had a slight acidic fruity flavour which, I didn’t think works well as a sorbet and I’d like to think that was the only reason I failed, but the sorbet turned quite grainy as well and it didn’t have as smooth a texture as I hoped.

I know chocolate is a very delicate ingredient and it can easily go wrong, but I don’t know much about the chemistry and I want to know why it went wrong… Did I boil the chocolate mixture too long? I think I followed the instructions precisely. Did I boil it too vigourously? I suspect I did, but it did say ‘it will bubble furiously’ in the book. I’d love to try this again even though I’m a bit scared of another failure (and it’s not cheap to make!) – I’d really appreciate it if someone could give me some advice on it, thank you…

Redcurrant Slush Sorbet

serves 4

500g redcurrants (with stalks)
200g caster sugar
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of half orange
40ml Cointreau (I used Grand Marnier)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Put all the ingredients except for the liqueur into an oven-proof dish and cover with foil. Cook for about 40 minutes until the fruit becomes a soft pulp.

After cooling, puree the mixture in a blender or processor and push through a sieve to remove all the bits, and then stir in the liqueur.

Churn the mixture in an ice-cream machine until it becomes slushy. Freeze.

Food - Sweet        25 comments    Permalink

  • Hi Keiko, I don’t know what you did wrong, but The Traveler’s Lunchbox has a to-die-for recipe for chocolate gelato!

    Posted by Jessica "Su Good Eats" | 7 September 2005 #
  • Wow, these are another inducing sweets, but did you fail in chocolat one? Well, maybe the recipe has something wrong!>m<

    The colour of the redcarrant solbet is quite inspiring!!

    Posted by akane(@rgb:nanairo-nianco) | 7 September 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko, those both look delicious! For Hermé’s Chocolate Sorbet, I find that using a blender and a fine-mesh sieve helps to make the mixture smooth and homogenous. I’ve only tried the recipe with Valrhona Guanaja, but like yours, mine also had a slightly fruity flavour. I’ll definitely try making the red current sorbet - it looks so vibrant!

    Posted by Clement | 7 September 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko

    I seemed to come across alot of fantastic food blogs with excellent photographs. I wonder now if creating wonderful delicious food inspires one’s skill in photography, or vice versa? Just a curly question. Nice pictures and great blog.


    Posted by Steffles | 7 September 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko- I am sorry I can’t help you this time coz I myself havent tried making ice cream or sorbet yet. I think your picture again look so beautiful and yummy at the same time. It’s true also that Manjari chocolate has a slight berry fruitty taste in it while Caraibe will have a coffee taste. I guess if you really want a strong chocolate flavor I think Guanaja will be the best to use. Have seen the Miss Gla Gla collection of PH? They looks soooo good.

    Posted by Cathy | 7 September 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko-san, this is Rie of なまけもののロンドン日記。I had no idea you had a English blog too, which, ahem, you seem to update more frequently than your Japanese blog! :) Your cooking and your photos are always sooo beautiful, visiting your blog is like visiting an art museum.

    Posted by Rie | 7 September 2005 #
  • Sorry to hear about the chocolate failure, you’re right about it being a delicate ingredient, a patissier I know refuses to let anyone into his kitchen if he is working with chocolate, he says things like aftershave and deoderant can taint it.

    Posted by Monkey Gland | 7 September 2005 #
  • I don’t know the recipe that you’ve used, but I had once the exact same problem with the Chocolate Sorbet by Linxe (the chef from La maison de chocolat). The recipe says to heat the sirup added with cocoa powder until 105°C, then to add the chocolate and at last to boil the whole for 5 minutes. Each time i’ve made that my sorbet turned out to have little grains instead of that smooth texture that you would expect. I always heard that the chocolate is very sensitive to heat, that it why last time i made this sorbet I made the cocoa sirup boiling by its own for 5 minutes, and then add the chocolate without heating. The result turned out great : total success... but I had not followed the recipe, and I will never know if something went wrong with my doing it or else....

    Hope this helps ?



    Posted by Frédérique | 7 September 2005 #
  • Hi there,

    Jessica - yes, that is one of my favourite posts of hers. I actually have a favourite recipe for chocolate ice-cream (gelato), but not for chocolate sorbet ;)







    Clement - thanks so much for your tips, I should have asked you before I did anything, shouldn’t I? Have you got any suggestions for chocolate I can try next time? (I’d like quite strong flavour, but not a fruity taste...)

    Steffles - thanks for dropping by, I think I was interested in cooking first, but they are both fairly new to me. I agree that there are so many good cooks *and* photographers around...

    Cathy - thank you for your notes as always, I think I should try again with Guanaja at least. And yes, I have seen the Miss Gla Gla at his shops, but haven’t tried them as I’m not a big fan of macarons. Did you read Clement’s post about it? It’s absolutely gorgeous!






    Monkey Gland - although I said ’failure’, it wasn’t actually too bad... I’d serve it to my friends (maybe not chef friends), I think my expectations were a bit too high. Speaking of aftershave/deodorant, I think those kind of things here are too strong - I had to ask Matthew to change it to a *weaker* one!

    Frederique - I’m glad to know that I wasn’t the only one who experienced the same problem! And I must say your recipe sounds better... The Herme recipe I used only uses chocolate, but I think adding cocoa powder might help to give it a stronger flavour? Can I ask what the book is called? (oh, it must be in French, so even if I get it I’d need your help to translate it :))

    Posted by keiko | 8 September 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko- I already read it and I was really impress by it.You know that I am a big big fan of PH so everytime I saw any post of PH makes me happy. I just want to ask if you ever see a picture of "Tango" a cake by PH which is made of parmesan cheese, red bell pepper and raspberry. I wasn’t able to find it on the net maybe you seen it before?

    Posted by Cathy | 8 September 2005 #
  • Hello Keiko,

    It looks yummy whatever you can say. What a lovely blog and your pictures are so appealing.

    There is a chocolate sorbet recipe in the Flavours Donna Hay’s book, I’ve never tried it but it only uses cocoa powder.

    Posted by Aude | 8 September 2005 #
  • hi keiko, beautiful pictures, as always. the one of the boozy slush of a sorbet, in particular, looks like a work of abstract know i worship at p.h.’s altar too. i have yet to try making his chocolate sorbet, but looking at it on paper, the aggressive boiling certainly sounds like the cause of potential trouble - perhaps could make it "ganache style".ie.bring sugar syrup to boil first to sufficient concentration, then add finely chopped chocolate off heat and stir till smooth? and as clement says, a fine meshed chinois should get rid of any grains...cheers,j

    Posted by J | 8 September 2005 #
  • I am not an expert on chocolate, but I do know that cooking it hard will produce grains in it, so I cant understand why a cookbook suggest that u do that. However, if you are interested in the chemistry of food, I can suggest that you obtain Heston Blumenthals book, "The Science of Cooking" (ISBN: 3540674667), and/or "El Bulli" (ISBN: 0060817577). I dont know if they have the recipe for a perfect chocolate sorbet, but they are both great when it comes to chemistry of food and interesting reading.

    Posted by hoppman | 9 September 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    I think it is this one :

    If you want the sorbet recipe my email is



    Posted by Frédérique | 9 September 2005 #
  • Your art cum food blog really fascinates me. Using sugar syrup in sorbet making will ensure a smoother texture (no grains).

    I am a big fan of Heston Blumenthal! Please read his book, it is the ’future’ of cooking!

    Posted by Rabbit | 9 September 2005 #
  • Hahaha, poor old Matthew! It reminds me of an odd story. I was travelling a few years ago in East Africa. We were driving one day and stopped to pick up a couple of hitchhiking Masai. The smell was incredible as they got into the Land Rover, not unpleaseant, just this really intense smell. One of the masai saw my expression and said something to my friend who was driving. He started laughing and then said to me translating.."she says you smell worse".

    Posted by Monkey Gland | 9 September 2005 #
  • Gorgeous inspiring stuff..Would this work in a hand churning ice cream maker? No redcurrants available but we do get some sort of wild raspberries here in February.Am gouing to print this out and try it in six months tinme. Thanks.

    Posted by deccanheffalump | 9 September 2005 #
  • Hey Keiko -

    I just wanted to let you know that I feel your pain with the whole ice-cream-making thing.

    This past weekend, I attempted an Earl Grey gelato; I apparently steeped it too long or something because it had the most acrid, disgustingly tannic finish. :-(

    Posted by Fatemeh | 9 September 2005 #
  • Oiishiso! I love berry sorbet :)

    Posted by emi | 9 September 2005 #
  • Hi there,

    Cathy - I haven’t seen the cake, it sounds very PH :) I’ll let you know when I find it.

    Aude - thank you for dropping by - I’ve got the book too (and it’s one of my favourite books of hers) but didn’t know it has a chocolate sorbet recipe in it! I should give it a go one of these days, thanks for letting me know.

    Joycelyn - thanks so much for your tips, I’m definitely learning from my mistakes!

    Hoppman - thank you for dropping by and for the useful tips - I like Mr Blumenthal’s approach to food, it’s fascinating and I’ll definitely have a look at the book soon. Oh and El Bulli... it’s been in my wish list for a while, but I don’t know if I could afford it even in the future...

    Fred - thanks so much for letting me know, that’s another book on my long term wish list...

    Rabbit - thank you for stopping by and for the tips. I started feeling like I can succeed next time! :) Did you watch it when he made perfect mash on Full on Food? I must say I was fascinated and was thinking about trying it out myself...

    MG - sorry, I’m still laughing... I guess you both had ’a different kind’ of smell. I’m jealous you’ve been to Africa, I’d love to hear all about it some time ;)

    Deccanheffalump - thank you for dropping by, of course it works in a hand churning machine. You can make it without a machine too, you just need fluff it up every so often with a fork. Wild raspberries sound wonderful, I’m looking forward to seeing your beautiful creations.

    Fatemeh - I really like a strong flavour when it comes to coffee or tea, but I guess it’s always important not to go *too* far...

    Emi - Oishikattayo! ;) I hope you’ll enjoy it too.

    Posted by keiko | 10 September 2005 #
  • Mike suggests using agave syrup or some other kind of syrup to make it---without, that is, knowing how you sweetened it. He thinks the grains might be from the sugar crystalizing again as it cools. We’ve been loving baking desserts with agave and succanat both, the results are unexpectedly delicious.

    Posted by Alex and Mike | 15 September 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko-

    It’s been a while since I’ve popped by, and I saw your photography continues to be nothing short of stunning.

    Sorry to hear about the bad luck with your bittersweet recipe. I use the following recipe, which produces a very smooth, rich ’sorbet’:

    Posted by s&#8217;kat | 15 September 2005 #
  • Hi Alex and Mike - as other people suggested too, it seems like syrup is the key... thanks so much for your notes as always.

    Hi s’kat - thank you so much for the link, I’ll definitely try it next time.

    Posted by keiko | 26 September 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko! I’m a newbie in kitchen area(btw I love your website)! I want to share a chocolate sorbet recipe I found(and tested) last year.

    Since I’m a beginner and have low budget, I can’t afford fancy chocolate, so i used Frey dark chocolate bar (70%) and Van Houten cacao powder when i tested this recipe. The result is surprisingly good, it’s chocolate-y, no grainy texture, a bit too sweet when it melts and yes i used blender but no i don’t have ice cream maker(i have to freeze in the freezer and whisk every 30 minutes for the first 4 hrs and whisk occasionally when i remember until it churned). For my first project on churning anything it turns out quite well.
    ps: i didn’t run the mixture through blender for the second try, and the result is still not grainy.

    Posted by Caplak | 5 February 2009 #
  • Hi Caplak – sorry for the late response, but thank you so much for letting me know!

    Posted by keiko | 27 April 2009 #

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