If you’ve managed to have a peek at any of my blog posts recently, you will know that a lot of them, in some ways, have been for birthdays. Whether it was my raspberry and white chocolate cookie cake or my schiachiatta con uva a lot of my recipes have been a little less random than what happens to come to mind. As much as I do enjoy baking for this reason, it does add a little bit of extra pressure to get it right and this week was no exception. However, this week I was not cooking for a birthday, but instead in an attempt to impress one of my toughest critics: my grandma.
For those of you who have met my grandma, you will know she is not easily impressed and that she certainly does not beat around the bush when expressing her thoughts and opinions. She has had a look at my blog once before and unfortunately wasn’t particularly enamoured with it, so the pressure was really on. Since my sister was home for the week and invited her for dinner, I took the opportunity to practice a new dessert. However, I made the unwise decision to try something I have never made before. While I have made tuiles once a little while ago, I have never made sorbet mainly because I don’t have an ice cream maker. One of my grandma’s main criticisms about my blog is that the recipes aren’t healthy, so after finding a few versions that didn’t need one I thought I would give it a go.
I have to admit that the plan was originally to make an asian pear and thyme sorbet with pistachio tuiles, but both my mum and my sister were sceptical and turned up their noses at the idea (pear snobs). Therefore I decided to go with peach and basil. Peach and basil are two of my favourite flavours so it seemed a pretty perfect combination, especially since the Martha Stewart recipe I had found pretty much called for those exact ingredients. Unfortunately for me, however, my plans were scuppered when I couldn’t get my mits on any ripe peaches, so I picked up a few plums in the hope they had similar properties and it would still set properly. But even more unfortunately for me, this was not the case. While I mistimed some of the steps slightly in the freezing process, the overall texture was quite bitty and not as solid as it should have been. I would probably say it was closer to a granita, but if you do try this I would also recommend using a stick blinder as there were still some chunks of plum mixed in.
But texture and modesty aside, otherwise I would say it turned out pretty well. I thought the flavours were lovely. While it was sweet, it was still incredibly fresh and light which would make it a perfect pudding for Summer. The tuiles were also a success. Although I cannot claim any originality in terms of the recipe, I cannot fault the one I chose from Delia Smith. But what did my grandma think? Admittedly she was not as thrilled as I was. Her one comment was that it was ‘interesting’ but she made it quite clear that she didn’t really understand why I had put the basil in. However, if you don’t try these things you never know! And I had clean glasses all around so it can’t have been too bad. As I said if you do decide to try this I would recommend revisiting the texture, either by only freezing the plums once or by blitzing them more thoroughly. Of course you could always use an ice cream maker if you have one. Either way I hope you enjoy!
Plum and Basil Sorbet with Almond Tuiles (Serves 5)
For the Sorbet:
- 4 plums, ripe
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- Small handful of basil leaves
For the tuiles:
- 1 large egg white
- 50g golden caster sugar
- 25g plain flour
- A few drops of vanilla essence and almond essence
- 25g butter, melted
- 40g flaked almonds
- For the sorbet peel the plums. This can be done in the same way you would peel tomatoes: cut a small cross in the bottom of the plum and place in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Remove, peel and slice into chunks. Freeze until solid.
- To make the tuiles, preheat your oven to 220C/ 200C Fan/ 430F.
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then gradually add the sugar and whisk until you have reached the soft peak stage.
- Gently fold in the rest of the ingredients apart from the almonds.
- Line a baking tray and put small blobs of tuile mix on each tray. Leave enough room to spread each one thinly so they are about 10cm in diameter.
- Sprinkle over the flaked almonds and bake for around 4-5 minutes until golden.
- Remove from the oven and shape over a rolling pin before they cool. Leave for a couple of minutes for them to harden, then take them off the rolling pin to cool completely.
- Just before you are about to serve, remove the plums from the freezer.
- Dissolve the sugar in 1/2 cup of water and blitz with the plums, lemon juice, basil leaves and salt until smooth. Serve in glasses with the tuiles.