It’s June 1st, which means lots of things in the midwest: children yell at each other from bicycles and skateboards, neighborhood pools are packed with bodies and beach balls, and markets are filled to the brim with fresh fruit and vegetables and it is amazing.
And it’s time for a new installment of the Jeni’s Spinalong. Hooray! Remember that time I made this sticky bun ice cream with cinnamon-pecan swirl? That was the inaugural Spinalong post, and this is the second in that series.
As you know, I’m #teamjenis forever. I have other ice cream cookbooks in my library, to be sure, but Jeni’s two cookbooks are a huge source of inspiration for me. The flavors! The ingredient combinations! The liberal application of crazy-awesome! I love it all. Everything seems incredibly well thought out but whimsical at the same time, and for me, that’s what ice cream should be about.
Jeni’s books taught me how to make ice cream and be confident about it. I loved her take on it; taking eggs out of the equation makes it less terrifying to make ice cream and allows the flavors to take center stage, like coloring on a bright white paper pad versus a yellow one. The books also taught me how to properly layer jams and mixins into my ice creams, how to make sauces and gravels, and just how to be a total rock star with ice cream.
And now, dum-dah-dah-DUM! Jeni’s is opening a store this week in St. Louis – Central West End, to be precise. There is a party; I really want to go. Not sure how I’m going to accomplish this yet, because there’s a small matter of probably-large lines, a free mug, and a 4 year-old who I’m sure will want to come, but i’ll figure it out. Dear Jeni: hopefully I’ll see you and not act incredibly nerdy on Thursday. Chances are I will act nerdy, however, so just be ready for that.
Until then, I give you my Jeni’s Spinalong offering for this season: summer. And what could be better than a sorbet right now? Nothing. Natalie at Wee Eats and I do the project jointly, using criteria we set together. Here are this season’s rules:
Theme: Summer Vacation
Foundation Ice Cream: A fruit sorbet of our own choosing
I’ve been working with grilled things for the past few months for a project: at some point, i grilled melons. As it turns out, melons – especially cantaloupe – are spectacular. You can’t keep them over a flame for long, but the minute or two of grilling imparts a smoky flavor to ripe cantaloupe that turns it into something special. Sorbets are always pretty great: bright and fresh and exceedingly summery, but I wanted to know what it would be like to give that brightness a little bit of dark mystery.
I’m here to tell you: it totally works. it’s just like fresh frozen cantaloupe, but with a subtle flavor that will instantly transport you to your patio on a summer evening. It’s very middle-summer: long evenings and multicolored sunsets and it’s the best. I based it on the recipe for Riesling-Poached Pear Sorbet from the first book, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home. Grilling is sort of like caveman poaching, right? For fruit, maybe: it gets the sugars going, softens things up, etc. I liked the pairing of wine and melon, but I opted to use Pino Grigio, which I think works wonderfully with the melon here.
Natalie, on the other hand, went for the quintessential summer of our collective Midwestern childhoods by combining two flavors we grew up with: ruby red watermelons and tart lemonade. She is brilliant for picking this one, because it screams summer and is the most beautiful color in the land. Head over to Wee Eats to get the recipe for her Watermelon Lemonade Popsicles, because not only it amazing, she mixed it up by making it in popsicle format. She used a recipe from the first book like I did, but I’ll let her tell you more about that. Needless to say, she totally knows how to do summer. And she knows how to give tips on how to make the perfect summer popsicle, which seems like a no-brainer, but I’m here to tell you that popsicles fail easily if you don’t know what you’re doing.
I suggest making these together and throwing a summer party. How perfect would either one of these be for an apres-burger dessert? And it could go swanky, too: maybe make this as a sweet treat after a big platter of steak and vegetables this summer. Whatever you you can think of, I bet these sorbets fit right in.
I sort of can’t wait for our next Spinalong installment: right now, we’re doing these quarterly, so you’ll have to wait until September 1, but if it keeps being this fun, i don’t know…i feel like it could be monthly at some point. I can feel Natalie getting angry at me for saying that but I cannot be contained.
Adapted from a recipe for Riesling-Poached Pear Sorbet found in Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home by the equally splendid Jeni Britton Bauer.
Grilled Cantaloupe Sorbet
- 1 1/2 lbs cantaloupe, ripe but firm, peeled, seeded, and sliced into crescents*
- 3 tablespoons grape seed oil
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup good-quality Pino Grigio (you pick your favorite)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup corn syrup
*That’s the weight after the melons have been peeled and seeded; you’ll need 1 1/2 cups total fruit, which amounts to about 3/4 of a medium-sized cantaloupe.
Prepare a grill for medium-high heat (alternatively, this works well indoors on a heavy grill pan). Oil grates well, and brush cantaloupe slices lightly on both sides with oil. Place slices over indirect heat and grill for 1 to 2 minutes until grill marks form but fruit is still firm. Flip and grill for 1 minute longer, then remove to a platter to cool.
Meanwhile, heat sugar, wine, and water over medium heat; bring to a boil and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in corn syrup until incorporated; allow to cool down slightly.
Once fruit and liquids are cooled down to room temperature or lukewarm, throw all the ingredients together in a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth. Force through a fine mesh strainer, and by “force” I mean “keep pushing until you just can’t push no more.” Once the initial liquids are through, there will be solids: don’t stop. Keep going until a very small amount of those solids remain: a few tablespoons of leftover is normal.
Place in a bowl and submerge in an ice bath, OR fill a heavy duty Ziploc zipper bag with the mixture and submerge until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour (or more, which is totally acceptable; it needs to be completely cold to spin properly.)
Place in ice cream maker and spin according to manufacturer’s instructions, until the mixture is the consistency of – and I’ll use Jeni’s words for this since it’s a perfect way to put this – softly whipped ice cream. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm, 4 hours or more.
You did it! Now pop that ice cream canister back in the freezer so you can make Natalie’s Watermelon Lemonade Popsicles. You’ll be happy you did, and they’re so easy do it do it do it.