Berry Basil Sorbet

by formerchef on August 5, 2011

Berry Basil Sorbet
Wow! It tastes like pizza! said a friend when I gave him a scoop.

That’s not exactly what you want to hear when you’re making a dessert sorbet, right?

Inspired by some fresh berries and an abundance of basil sitting on my counter, I made this sorbet for a party last month. I was surprised at how much everyone seemed to enjoy it (the pizza comment notwithstanding). And no, I don’t think my friend really meant that the sorbet tasted like tomatoes and cheese, but rather that the fresh basil was surprising and basil makes him think of pizza. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

But the comment got me thinking and clearly had an impact since I could not let it go.
What is dessert and what isn’t?
How savory can you go and still call it “dessert?”

The lines seems to have been blurred more in the last decade and there’s been a lot of crossover between savory and sweet. Maybe we should blame the bacon frenzy which seems to have percolated into every food stuff on the planet, particularly the sweet stuff (pig candy anyone?). While this sorbet is not the salty-sweet combo so popular in desserts now, the addition of the savory basil adds a unique and fragrant flavor contrast with the sweetness of the berries.

I made the sorbet again this past weekend and, because I could not resist, I asked “do you think it tastes like pizza?”
My guests looked at me like I was on crack and reassured me that it most certainly did not.

Do you have any unusual sorbet or ice cream flavors you like to make? How do people react when they try them? Leave a comment below and let me know!

mixed berries and basil

Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries and Basil

Berry Basil Sorbet Recipe
Printable Recipe for Berry Basil Sorbet

4 cups mixed berries*
1 lime (juice only)
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp berry kirsch*
1/2 oz fresh basil leaves, cut chiffonade**

Ingredient Notes:
Berries: I used 2 cups hulled strawberries, 1 cup blackberries, 1 cup blueberries
Kirsch: I used this because I had it, but even neutral flavored alcohol will work. Alcohol does not freeze and helps keep the sorbet from freezing rock solid. I could not even taste it in the sorbet. You can leave it out if you don’t want to include alcohol in the recipe.
Chiffonade: French for “made of rags” it is a method of cutting herbs or lettuce into fine strips. Go here to see the cutting technique.

In a small pot combine the water and sugar and heat until the sugar dissolves to make a simple syrup. Let cool.

Clean and wash the berries. Place them in a food processor or blender and puree. Add the simple syrup and the lime juice and puree to combine.

Strain the berry puree to remove the seeds through a fine mesh strainer. It’s a lot of work to push it through, but straining the puree gives the finished sorbet a lovely smooth texture. Chill the strained puree until cold.

Freeze according to your ice cream machine’s directions. Right before it is done, when the sorbet is thick, add in the alcohol and sliced basil and allow it to mix in. Transfer the sorbet into a freezer container and freeze until firm.

Yield: About 1 quart.

1 Katharine August 5, 2011 at 8:58 am

You know what would be even better? If you had lime basil. Which I do.

2 formerchef August 5, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Lime basil? Yes, that would be fabulous!

3 Nywoman August 5, 2011 at 10:23 am

Yesterday I served Hibiscus sorbet made from dried flowers. Very refreshing.

4 formerchef August 5, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Nywoman-hmmm, that does sound good. I have some dried hibiscus flowers, I might have to try that.

5 Myra August 5, 2011 at 5:47 pm

This sorbet makes me want to buy an ice cream maker.

6 formerchef August 5, 2011 at 6:17 pm

You should! Costco usualy has them for about $40. Tip: Never wash the freezer bowl in hot water (lesson learned the hard way-ruins the bowl).

7 Amethyst August 8, 2011 at 9:15 am

My husband and I have made a number of unusual ice creams over the years (no sorbet yet, though yours will probably be the first). They have included: basil ice cream (OMG yum, probably my favorite), pesto ice cream (too much garlic the one time we did it), curry and honey ice cream, and lavender ice cream (too strong, needed to be served half-and-half with vanilla). We think that a creamed corn ice cream would also be tasty. I’d be happy to forward along the recipes for any of these – just let me know.

8 My Man's Belly August 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I just started making savory (dessert) ice creams. My first was a chicken and waffles ice cream – a HUGE hit with everyone who tried it and a basil olive oil ice cream. With all of the ice creams that I’ve made, these 2 were by far the biggest crowd pleasers. Gonna have to try your sorbet because I’ve still got lots of basil around.

9 formerchef August 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Chicken and Waffles Ice Cream? OMG, that sounds crazy but oddly…good. 🙂 Just made Fig Goat’s Milk Ice Cream this weekend.

10 Joy August 18, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Love the vibrant berry red sorbet. Looks so yum! I think the pizza comment was just because of the basil. 😉

11 Simone August 21, 2011 at 2:21 am

O lol… sorbet that tastes like pizza… Hmm, now there’s a thought.. I actually have tasted basil icecream before and totally loved it. It takes some getting used to certain flavors but I like the unexpected!

12 angela@spinachtiger August 29, 2011 at 5:31 am

Lovely idea and perfect to serve after a heavy meal. I cook with herbs in desserts all the time. I recently grew lime basil which is amazingly like lime and added it to many blackberry desserts. It’s also very hardy. It looks more delicate but fared much better than the Italian basil.

13 formerchef August 29, 2011 at 6:14 am

Angela- I’ve seen lemon basil, but not lime. I’ll have to look for that!

14 jim August 29, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Oh this looks so good.Well my wife will be off to pickup what we need in the morning for this dish.She is pregnant and must have this 🙂

15 Barbara | Creative Culinary September 3, 2011 at 3:36 pm

This is gorgeous! I went a bit sorbet crazy earlier this summer and ended up making a trio of sorbets. All included either wine or liqueur and an herb from my garden.

They were all a hit with my testers…you might call them neighbors. But far and away the most popular was the Lemon Thyme Limoncello. Wishing I had some now or some of yours!

16 formerchef September 3, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Lemon-Thyme Limoncello sounds awesome!

17 Kirk September 18, 2011 at 9:20 am

I wish I could dive into my computer screen to taste this irresistibly delicious piece of sorbet..

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