Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fresh Mint Sherbet with Figs Roasted in Chartreuse and Honey


So the story I tell myself is that I don't really like mint ice cream.  Well, I am rewriting the story today, people.  It turns out I don't really like bad mint ice cream.  But give me freshly made mint sherbet, and I am a fan.  A big fan.  Maybe even mint sherbet's number one fan.




First off, I made this to serve at our family dinner last night.  I started on Friday by crushing a nice, giant bunch of mint leaves and stems (I admit, I used the stems because I wanted a pretty powerful minty flavor.  Some say they don't like to add the stems because it makes the sherbet a little herby, but given that I was serving this sherbet with Chartruese, herby was not a concern).  My entire house smelled fantastic--really bright and clean and, well, minty--as I steeped warmed milk and sugar with mint.

Then yesterday morning, I whipped up some egg whites and sent the minty milk and egg white mixture through the ice cream maker (seriously, one of the top wedding gifts we received.  I say, get married if only for the ice cream maker).




 
But the most fantastic thing about this desert is the sauce made with the figs.  Chartreuse is a funny little liqueur.  The hooch made by Carthusian monks since the 18th century, comes in two varieties, green and yellow.  With a quick phone call to the in-laws, I was able to procure a bottle of the medicinal variety, Elixir Végétal de la Grande-Chartreuse.  This little number is a bit stronger than your garden variety Green Chartreuse.  It came their way via the mother-in-law's mother's (my grandmother-in-law's?) trip to France last year.  She likes to return to the States with delightful oddities, and last year we stood in the kitchen sipping what is said to be an elixir of long life.  I happened to remember that they had this little bottle, so I skipped the step of having to find one myself. Admittedly, it's pretty strong, but mix it with some honey, roast some figs in it, and hooo-boy.  I actually recommend doubling the amount called for of both honey and Chartreuse in the recipe so that you have even more sauce to drizzle over the incredible sherbet.  It's good: herby and sweet.



Finally, it was delightful to return to family dinner.  We have had to put even that on hiatus given the pure busy-ness of summer.  But I feel as if life is returning a little to normal.  That means yoga, running, teaching, family, friends (including the one I delightfully got to go out with to lunch today).  Tomorrow meetings begin at school.  While it is sad to see the summer go, it is welcome, indeed, to return to the rhythms of fall.



One Year Ago: Quesadillas with Mushrooms and Asparagus

Two Years Ago: Fresh Watermelon Sangria

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Fresh Mint Sherbet with Figs Roasted in Chartreuse and Honey
Adapted from  Ready for Dessert

Yield:
6-8 Servings

Ingredients:  
The mint sherbet:
4 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
2 cups packed fresh mint leaves, bruised, plus a few chopped and set aside to fold into finished sherbet
3 egg whites, at room temperature  (Feel free to use pasteurized egg whites if you are a little iffy on eating uncooked eggs.  I did.)
Pinch of salt

The figs:
1 pound fresh figs
3 tablespoons Chartreuse  (Consider doubling this and the honey.  You won't be sorry.)
2 tablespoons honey
3 sprigs thyme


Instructions:
Mint Sherbet
1.  Warm the milk, sugar, and 1 cup mint leaves, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, cover, and steep for 1 hour.

2. Strain the milk, squeezing the mint leaves to extract all the flavor. Discard the leaves and refrigerate the mixture to chill it thoroughly.

3. Just before churning, whip the egg whites until they stand in soft peaks and fold them into the chilled milk. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Finely chop the extra mint leaves and fold them into the just-frozen sherbet.

Figs
4.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

5. Remove the stems and slice the figs in half and place them in a baking dish. Add the Chartreuse, honey, and thyme and toss to coat the figs. Arrange the figs in a single layer in the baking dish, with the cut sides down.

6.  Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes, until the figs are cooked through. Serve warm with scoops of mint sherbet.

David Lebovitz, the author of this recipe, suggests that you make the figs a few hours or even up to days before serving, as you can drizzle the cooled syrup over the sherbet. I concur.

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