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'Ice, Ice, Baby!'

June 30, 2005 By:
Lorna Rosenberg
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When the sun is high and the temperature rises, teens reach for frozen treats to cool off. Drinkable delights like slushies, smoothies and shakes are all tempting, and local favorites like water ice and soft custard give teens and their families a summertime destination after an evening at the movies or miniature golf.

So, what frozen items can you make at home that taste like the one you buy?

The answer is sorbet: an easy-to-make, sophisticated snack any teen with a fridge, food processor and a few ingredients can make.

Sorbet is a frozen confection consisting of sugar, water, and a fruit purée or fruit juice. It has a creamy, almost ice-cream-like consistency. Characteristically, sorbets are light and refreshing, but intensely flavored. Sometimes they are tart and sweet at the same time, which makes them very appealing to a generation of youngsters who crave "extreme sour."

The basic formula for sorbet is as follows:

• Prepare a simple syrup by boiling equal parts of sugar and water in a pot until the sugar is dissolved into solution. Let cool.

• Juice or purée the fruit of your choice in a food processor; add the simple syrup, and fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice to taste.

• Place the mixture in a shallow pan (plastic or aluminum) and cover tightly. Freeze until solid (overnight or about six hours).

• Remove from freezer and allow to soften enough to cut into 2-inch hunks. Add the hunks to the food processor; blend until smooth. The sorbet will turn a lighter color as the ice crystals break up to form a creamy consistency, like a really thick milkshake. Pour into a container and refreeze until solid and scoopable.

My 16-year-old son loves to experiment with fruits and flavors that often result in interesting concoctions. Sorbet is quite forgiving, but beware of an end result that either separates after being frozen, indicating that too much sugar syrup has been added, or is rock-hard, indicating too little sugar.

Sorbets can be a gourmet treat when served between courses at a fancy dinner, as dessert or simply eaten with a spoon standing right in front of the fridge, straight out of the container.

Follow the simple recipes below or choose some of your own favorite seasonal fruits.

Berry Sorbet

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
16 oz. strawberries
16 oz. fresh or frozen raspberries, or mixed berries
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime

Place sugar and water in a pan; boil about 5 minutes until sugar is completely dissolved. The liquid should be clear.

Let cool. (Can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 months for your next sorbet creation!)

Place berries and juice from lemon and lime, and half of the sugar syrup, into a food processor. Process until smooth. Adjust taste with more syrup or more citrus. Place in a shallow pan, cover and freeze until hard.

Remove from freezer, and allow it to partially thaw.

Break frozen berry mixture into chunks and process again until smooth (the color will become lighter).

Pour back into a container, cover and refreeze until firm.

Short-Cut Sorbet

Take one can of your favorite canned fruit in heavy syrup (peaches, pears, apricots). Place in the freezer overnight.

When you need a quick sorbet fix, remove the can from the freezer, run under water to thaw slightly and open the top.

Scoop out the frozen fruit and syrup, and place in a food processor. Process until smooth.

Serve immediately in a tall glass. Feel free to add lemon or lime juice or rind to taste, or extracts such as vanilla or almond.

Coconut-Citrus Sorbet

1 can sweetened coconut cream
1 cup water
1/2 to 3/4 cup of lemon and lime juices (start with a 1/2 cup and add more until desired tartness)
1 tsp. grated lemon or lime rind

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Place in a lasagna-size aluminum foil pan; freeze until hard. Remove from freezer and allow it to partially thaw.

Break frozen mixture into chunks and process again until smooth (the color will become lighter).

Pour into a container, cover and refreeze until firm.

Lorna Rosenberg is a cooking teacher and home chef in Elkins Park.

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