Well since I’m trying to eat a little more on the lighter side these days in preparation for one of my best friend’s wedding in two weeks, I decided to make a strawberry sorbet…they don’t have any calories right? To add some more pazazz to the sorbet I decided to make some brown sugar meringues and candied pecans to go with it. Overall I thought the dessert was good, nothing outrageously delicious to write home to mom about, but still yummy. The sorbet really did taste like you were eating a strawberry, not too sweet at all, so if you like things natural then this is definitely the recipe for you. I had a ton of fun making the meringues and choosing which designs to make with them…a perfect time to involve the kids in the kitchen. And for those of you who think you’ll never make homemade caramelized nuts think again! This recipe took about all of 5 minutes to whip together and only involves 3 ingredients! Even though this dessert had three different components to it, it really was a user friendly dessert. Each component was extremely easy and fast to make. The only time consuming part is baking the meringues and freezing the ice cream, but you can be busy doing other things while these things take place. Also, if you want to plan ahead each one of these could be made ahead of time and then assembled at the last minute. As you can see by the multitude of photos I got a little excited when playing with this dessert and tried out many, many different ways to style it…hope you enjoy them! The strawberry sorbet and caramelized pecan recipe came from Alice Merdrich’s book, Pure Dessert. (I also recommend her book, Bittersweet, for anyone interested in chocolate…well who wouldn’t be?) This book is a winner sure for! She has so many recipes that I am dying to try and she also takes the time to give you very informative information about everything. The brown sugar meringue recipe came from Emily Luchetti’s book, A Passion for Dessert. This book is fantastic also. She breaks up her recipes into which season they go with the best. I think this would help a lot of people out who find themselves wondering what exactly they should make and what types of food are in that particular season. Both of these books would be great additions to any collection.
Sensational Strawberry Sorbet
adapted from Pure Dessert
1 # or 4 cups ripe, flavorful strawberries (rinsed and hulled)
1/3 cup plus 2 T. water
1/3 cup sugar, plus more to taste (I added about 1/6 cup more)
A few drops of fresh lemon juice (only if necessary)
2 to 3 t. vodka, kirsch, or framboise (optional…I used vodka)
Add 1 cup of berries to a small saucepan with a good lid and add 2 T. of water. Bring to a simmer over high heat and then reduce to medium and cover. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until berries are fork tender…do not over cook.
Scrape berries and their juices into a food processor or blender and add the remaining berries and sugar. Puree until smooth. Stir in the remaining 1/3 cup water and transfer puree to a bowl and chill. Taste the puree and adjust with more sugar or lemon if needed. Stir in liquor if using. For an extra cold start, freeze puree for 20 minutes before putting in the ice cream machine. Freeze puree according to the instructions of your ice cream machine.
Put sorbet in an airtight container and freeze until hard enough to scoop, 3 to 4 hours.
Caramelized Pecan Garnish
adapted from Pure Dessert
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 t. fleur de sel or sea salt (I also sprinkled some on top too)
1/2 cup of nuts (I chose pecans)
Have a baking sheet near by lined with a silpat, parchment paper, or foil.
Mix the sugar and salt and then spread in a dry skillet. Set pan over medium-high heat without stirring until the sugar around the edges begins to melt. Shake the pan to redistribute the liquid. When the syrup begins to color, stir it with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, mixing and spreading until all the sugar is melted and evenly colored. If it starts to color too fast turn down the heat and/or take it off the heat for a little while. When the syrup looks pale amber add the nuts and stir gently to coat. You can drop a bead of the syrup on a white plate to judge the color. When the color turns to medium-dark honey take it off the heat and scrap the mixture onto your silpat. Spread it as thin as possible, but don’t touch it…it’s extremely hot! Let cool and then break into chunks. Place pieces in a seal bag until needed.
Here are some photos of the caramelization process.
I also took some of the hardened caramelized nuts and put them in my mini food processor and gave it a whirl to create a more delicate caramelized nut topping.
Brown Sugar Meringues
adapted from A Passion for Desserts
1/4 cup plus 1 T. firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large egg whites
Large pinch of cream of tarter
Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
Sift or push brown sugar through a fine mesh sieve onto parchment paper to remove any lumps.
Using a stand mixer with a whip attachment, whip the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tarter. Increase to high speed and add the brown sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Whip the egg whites until very thick and satiny, about 2 minutes.
You can either pipe the meringue onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet or you can spoon it on too. Use whatever piping tip you want…I used a #804. If you want to create room for the ice cream to sit in the meringue then dip a spoon in water and then use it to push down on the meringue and create a hole.
Bake meringues for about 2 hours, until they easily come off of the parchment paper. To test if they are done, remove them from the oven and let sit for a couple of minutes. Then, using a metal spatula, try to lift them off the parchment, if they don’t come off easily, return to them to the oven.
Place cooled meringues in a airtight container. The meringues can be made several days in advance if store in a airtight container, otherwise they will become soggy.
Here is a photo of the finished meringues.
Like I said…I got a little photo crazy, so here they are!
I would love for you to leave me a comment and let me know which way you prefer the dessert plated!