Category Archives: Dessert

Vodka Watermelon Sorbet

vodka watermelon sorbet

Two boozy frozen treats in a row, I think it’s a summer trend.

A lot of the cooking I do is really improvisational, odds and ends from other projects, friends coming over or someplace to go — what could I make? I don’t go out and shop with a recipe in mind, usually. It’s more often a quest to get through all the produce I so voraciously buy each week.

So, like the Pimm’s Cup Popsicles, this one just announced itself: half a watermelon in the fridge, bunch of limes hanging out, healthy supply of vodka in the freezer, friend’s birthday tonight. Enter boozy birthday watermelon sorbet.

This recipe is definitely purposefully extra boozy, unlike other ice cream recipes where I add a tablespoon or two to help combat the iciness homemade ice cream acquires in the freezer if you don’t eat it right away.

And friends, it’s just so pretty. Like that woman at a party wearing a great dress who you can also tell is a LOT of fun.

Vodka Watermelon Sorbet
makes about 2 pints of sorbet

4 cups of watermelon puree (from about half of a medium sized watermelon)
1/2 cup simple syrup (recipe below)
1 lime, zest and juice
1/2 cup vodka
pinch of salt

Puree chunks of watermelon in a blender until you have about 4 cups worth of liquid. Protip – mash the watermelon chunks with a potato masher a few times before adding to the blender so they will blend up without having to add any extra liquid.

Add the simple syrup, lime zest and juice, vodka and salt. Puree again until well-blended. Chill mixture for at least an hour, preferably longer.

Add to your ice cream maker and process.

Take to a birthday party, or just be a party yourself.

Simple Syrup
makes about 1.5 cups syrup

Simple syrup is (simply) a 1:1 ratio of sugar dissolved in water, but it needs to be heated and then cooled before you can use it in the sorbet recipe.

1 cup of water
1 cup of white granulated sugar

Stir together the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Put over medium heat until the sugar fully dissolves, which will take a few minutes. Watch it to make sure it doesn’t boil over or start to brown.

Remove from the pan and cool.

Pimm’s Cup Popsicles

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I am super into popsicles and ice cream. But really, popsicles are where it’s at this summer. Especially boozy popsicles.

Between a small portion of Pimm’s No. 1 leftover from a friend’s move and a bumper crop of cucumbers from my Mom’s garden, these practically made themselves.

But boozy popsicles are teetotallers — add too much booze and they won’t freeze (although honestly if you end up with boozy slushy who is going to complain). The boozy popsicle primer recommends about 1 shot of booze per cup of liquid (1 shot = 3 tablespoons). But if there’s any boundary I’m going to push, it’s going to be the how-much-booze-can-I-possibly-put-in-these-and-have-them-still-work one. So I added a bit more than recommended here, and they froze up just fine.

They are not sweet, more like a cucumber popsicle with an edge.

Pimm’s Cup Popsicles
makes about 1.5 cups of liquid, which for me was 4 popsicles

1/2 a cucumber, peeled and seeds scraped out
1 cup of water
1 lemon, juice
6 tablespoons of Pimm’s No. 1
small handful of mint leaves (optional)

Roughly chop the cucumber.

Combine the cucumber, water, lemon juice and Pimm’s in a blender and blend for a few minutes, until very smooth (include mint leaves if using). Pour the mixture into your popsicles molds and freeze overnight.

Share with friends.

Strawberry Freezer Jam

strawberry jam jar

If you read here often, you know that my favorite recipes aren’t really recipes at all. They are methods that are easy to adapt to what’s seasonal or craved, or both. They don’t have a lot of specific ingredients or steps, because I find those tedious to write up, and it’s not how I cook. There are many wonderful chefs and home cooks who do this assiduously and beautifully. Just not my thing.

BUT, this jam is awesome and you should make it. Up to you whether you share it with anyone else. I made it with some gorgeous litte Earliglow strawberries from New Morning Farm in Pennsylvania, who come to the Dupont Circle Farmers Market every Sunday. It’s called freezer jam because instead of going through the whole canning process, you can just freeze it. In this case, I only made one jar, so I’m just keeping it in the fridge.

You could easily use this same method with any of the berries that will come our way this summer — blueberries, blackberries, raspberries. The last gasp of the strawberries if you’re lucky enough to still have them around you. I think even peaches.

What have I been doing with my jar… dipping coconut popsicles into a little dish of it, spooning it over chocolate sorbet, smearing it on toast with salted butter, eating it with a spoon.

But I felt it’s highest calling would actually be it’s most humble — a peanut butter and jelly (jam) sandwich. Remember how much I love bread.

peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich

I only wish I had made more.

Strawberry Freezer Jam
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Thursday Night Ice Cream – Coconut Frozen Yogurt

I have made ice cream all sorts of ways, but the methods I always come back to are the simplest ones. No cooking, not too sweet, simple and quick. Greek yogurt is a backbone of this approach, since its thick creaminess gets you most of the way there without all the heavy cream or eggs. In fact, once I discovered that you could essentially make Pinkberry-style frozen yogurt by dumping a carton of greek yogurt into the ice cream maker with some sugar, it seemed even sillier to ride that trend (which has since gone from yogurt to cupcakes to donuts… I think we are rebelling against something).

Coconut Frozen Yogurt

This yogurt is so simple you can throw it together after dinner and be enjoying ethereal bowls of it within a half hour (and yes, you’ll eat multiple bowls of it). You may need to adjust the quantities to fit your ice cream maker — this batch nearly overflowed mine, but I wasn’t complaining. And the ratios are fairly forgiving.

I thought about tumbling all sorts of things into the ice cream maker while it was mixing — cinnamon, blackberries, toasted almonds. But in the end, I kept it simple. It’s slightly tangy from the yogurt and just sweet enough to be dessert.

Coconut Frozen Yogurt
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Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta

Summer is the time for light meals, but my sweet tooth is not seasonal. This recipe for panna cotta has been revised, and instead of using heavy cream, uses thick low fat greek yogurt, skim milk and low fat buttermilk to produce a lightly sweet and creamy cool dessert. Serve with berries or sliced peaches that you pile into your glass or dish as you eat down the panna cotta.

The flavor possibilities are endless with this one. I added cardamom for some cool spice. You could also go with orange or lemon zest, fresh vanilla bean, or cinnamon. But keep it simple and let the cool clean flavors shine.

Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta
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Simple Apple Tart

So, ideally I would have posted this before Thanksgiving, so my legion of readers could use it for the big meal… but I’m not so on top of it, and frankly was looking for the perfect recipe right up until the big day. So here it is ex post facto, you can make it for the next Big Holiday, however your religious or nonreligious preferences construe it.

The original version is meant to be brushed and drizzled with caramel sauce, but frankly I thought the tart was more elegant on its own. If you choose to gussy it up with the caramel sauce, do as many of the reviewers on Epicurious suggest and cut the caramel sauce recipe down so it makes 1/3 of what is called for, and that will be plenty.

Simple Apple Tart
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Peach-Buttermilk Sherbet

Ice cream is restorative. I don’t mean that in a curl-up-with-a-pint-when-you’re-feeling-bad-about-yourself kind of way (not that there’s anything wrong with that), or in that obnoxious Dove Chocolate commercial “this is your moment” kind of way. I mean in the process of blending and freezing flavors, wonderful things happen. And when you sit down to eat the fruits of your labor, especially when the fruits of your labor actually contain delicious seasonal fruit, that first cool sweet bite is just so satisfying.

This recipe for Peach-Buttermilk Sherbet has five ingredients, but only the first three are vital to your ice cream success. The last two are wonderful additions, but if you don’t have them on hand, don’t worry about it (although the booze will help smooth your final product). I’m not sure whether to call it ice cream or sherbet, but let’s not worry about semantics. Just make it.

We are at the tail end of peach season here, people. If you haven’t seized the peach yet, now’s really your last chance.

Peach-Buttermilk Ice Cream/Sherbet
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