Monday, June 4, 2012

Sorbet...Straight From the Pantry? Yes!

My husband loves sorbet.  It is his absolute favorite dessert.  So, while we were dating and first married, I made a lot of sorbet.

At that time, my sister and I also thought it would be fun to try a theme dinner where every item in the menu had a common ingredient.  I had seen a lot of vanilla recipes at the time, so we decided to try a vanilla-themed dinner.  Everything we made was a little disappointing...except the sorbet.  And the sorbet?  It was to die for!  Now, for me, vanilla is one of the most subtle, comforting, and delicate flavors ever.  You just can't go wrong with vanilla in a dessert.  On our vanilla theme night, we made Vanilla Balsamic Chicken and Mixed Salad with Vanilla-Pear Vinaigrette and Toasted Walnuts.  Both of those recipes can be found on

Those recipes were fine.  But here was my problem with them: they didn't allow the vanilla to shine...they hid the vanilla in the background.  The chicken called for shallots, orange rind, orange juice, and balsamic vinegar...all really, really strong flavors.  Then, it called for a vanilla bean.  I was disappointed because you could barely taste the vanilla.  The orange, shallots, and balsamic vinegar just overshadowed the vanilla.  Which was especially disappointing because vanilla beans are NOT cheap!  It was a pretty good recipe--especially if you love orange flavored chicken.  But I would strongly suggest using 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead of the vanilla bean to save yourself some money!  As for the salad, again, it called for very little vanilla and you really couldn't taste, what's the point of adding the vanilla?  Just to say it's there?

But for dessert, we made Vanilla Bean Sorbet (with Pineapple Topping).  Now, this sorbet really allows the  vanilla to shine.  I didn't make it with the Pineapple Topping, however.  I meant to do it at some point though.  On our theme night, I simply topped it with quartered strawberries that had been tossed with a little sugar.  And that was so good that I've never made it differently because it's just so good that way!  But recently, it occurred to me that if you topped it with a mixture of strawberries, blueberries, and sugar that it would be the perfect patriotic dessert.  Cool for the hot summer months, and just the right colors for the Fourth of July!  But blackberries or raspberries would be delicious with this sorbet too.  The sky's the limit!

The original recipe calls for a vanilla bean, but you can also use vanilla extract.  I've made it both ways and it is equally delicious either way (but a lot cheaper with the extract).  And excluding the topping, you can have all of the ingredients for the sorbet on hand in your pantry to make any time you please.  Isn't that great?  So, you can throw together sorbet at the drop of the hat...without waiting for fresh seasonal fruit.

Trust me, this recipe is a keeper.  It's so easy and so delicious.

Vanilla Bean Sorbet with Pineapple Topping

On its own, this sorbet is sweet, but the spicy tartness of the pineapple topping is the perfect foil.  A touch of corn syrup in the sorbet keeps it from freezing solid and allows for easy scooping.



4 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 (1/2-inch) piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


1/2 cup dark rum (or, if you don't cook with alcohol, you can substitute 1/2 cup water and 1-2 teaspoons rum flavoring)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 (1-inch) slice peeled fresh ginger, halved
1 1/2 cups diced pineapple

Topping alternative:

Favorite fruit tossed with a little granulated sugar (such as quartered strawberries)


To prepare sorbet, combine 4 cups water, 1 cup sugar, and light corn syrup in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat.  Cook 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently.  Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a medium bowl.  Add vanilla bean and fresh lemon juice.  Pour hot sugar mixture over vanilla mixture; stir well with a whisk.  Cover and chill completely.  Remove and discard vanilla bean.  Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.  Spoon sorbet into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze for 4 hours or until firm.

To prepare topping, combine dark rum (or water and rum extract mixture), water, sugar, and ginger in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes.  remove from heat; cool to room temperature.  remove and discard ginger.  Pour rum mixture over pineapple; chill 1 hour.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 2/3 cup sorbet and about 3 tablespoons topping).

Nutrition information: 185 calories, 0.1 g fat, 0.1 g protein, 0.0 mg cholesterol, 3 mg calcium, 13 mg sodium, 0.4 g fiber, 0.2 mg iron, 39.7 g carbohydrate.

Source: Cooking Light, October 2004.  You can find the recipe here.

Notes: As mentioned in my explanation above, I top my sorbet with strawberries instead of the recipe's original pineapple topping.  This sorbet is very versatile and would be delicious with any number of toppings.  I also usually double it because it keeps really well in the freezer, so you can snack on it for many moons to come...with a topping or without!


  1. The pineapple with the ginger does sound intriguing. For Sunday dinner I was going to make two kinds of ice cream, but maybe I should make one of them a sorbet.

  2. I still have some of this sorbet in my freezer. Maybe you could try the pineapple ginger topping and I'll bring my sorbet. :)