Recipe and photos by Brandon Matzek
When the Santa Anas are blowing on a hot summer evening, there's nothing cooler than a frosty bite of this Pineapple Tequila Sorbet. Golden ripe chunks of fresh pineapple are blended with smoky tequila, lime juice and vibrant Aleppo chili powder to make a scoopable pineapple margarita that's sweet, bright and wonderfully refreshing. Sorbet and ice cream are two desserts I love to serve up during a summer soiree. Both options can be made in advance and have major wow! factor with minimal effort. For added effect, set up a self-serve station with an assortment of mismatched bowls and spoons. Place a bowl of your freshly made sorbet or ice cream inside a larger bowl filled with ice. Finally, fill a taller glass with warm water to house an ice cream scoop or two, and there you have it - a showstopper dessert made easy.
The key to preparing a tasty, fresh-fruit sorbet is to utilize ripe, seasonal produce. Pineapples are available year-round, but their growing season is from March to July. During this time period, most pineapples will be cheaper and more flavorful. When hunting for that perfect pineapple, use your nose to gauge ripeness. Simply pick up a pineapple and smell the tail end (the one with no leaves). If it smells like pineapple, it's ripe. Once you master the process below, you can easily adapt it to other types of seasonal produce. Start with 2 lbs. of blended fruit and sweeten to taste with sugar syrup. Add other flavorings like citrus juice, salt, spices and alcohol at the end. Transfer to an ice cream maker, and within a few hours, you'll have homemade sorbet. Other fruit in season now: watermelon, peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums, pluots (plum/apricot hybrid), cucumber, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries.
Pineapple Tequila Sorbet
2 pounds peeled, cored and cut pineapple
(from about 1 1/2 pineapples)
3 tbsp. water
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup (this will ensure a smooth consistency)
1 1/2 tsp. Aleppo chili powder, plus more for sprinkling*
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup tequila
Juice of 1 lime
Blend and sweeten. Place pineapple in a blender and process until smooth. Measure 4 cups of pineapple puree and reserve the rest for another use (like your morning smoothie). Warm water, sugar, light corn syrup and Aleppo chili powder in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Return the 4 cups of pineapple puree to the blender and add the Aleppo chili syrup and kosher salt, blending until combined.
Flavor and chill. Transfer contents of the blender to a large bowl, then stir in the tequila and lime juice. Season to taste with additional kosher salt - the flavors should be bright. Cover the bowl and chill the sorbet base for at least 3 to 4 hours, or until very cold.
Churn and serve. Freeze sorbet in an ice-cream maker following the manufacturer's instructions, then transfer it to an airtight container and chill in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours. To serve, scoop into small bowls and sprinkle with Aleppo chili powder.
*Mild and fruity Aleppo chili powder (available at at North Park Produce; get the package labeled "mild") adds wonderful flavor without much heat.
Meet Your Maker
Ice cream machinery from cheap to steep
YayLabs Play and Freeze Ice Cream Ball
Ice Cream Maker
$24.77 at Walmart
Turn ice cream-making into a physical activity that burns calories to make room for more ice cream. This spherical contraption, which freezes ice cream in a metal canister surrounded by ice and rock salt, requires the user to roll the ball until its contents begin to solidify. This option is ideal if you're looking to have fun making ice cream with your kids, though the tequila sorbet recipe should probably be subbed-out if you intend to maintain custody of them.
Nostalgia Electrics ICMP-400BLUE
4-Quart Electric Ice Cream Maker
$29.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond
Inexpensive but durable, this lower-tech option churns ice cream in a metal canister submerged in a bucket filled with ice. You'll need to have ice and rock salt available each time you use this machine.
Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt
Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker
$59.94 at Great News!, Pacific Beach
Affordable and easy to use, this Cuisinart Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker prepares frozen treats in just 15 to 20 minutes. This is the stand-alone version of the KitchenAid attachment below. You'll need to chill the canister in the freezer for at least 14 hours, but 24 hours is ideal.
Waring Pro SCM100 Professional
Snow Cone Maker
$69.95 at Sur La Table
This machine does not make ice cream or sorbet. Instead, it transforms ice into a mound of fluffy snow. Scoop the snow into a classic paper cone and drizzle with flavored syrup.
KitchenAid KICA0WH Ice Cream
$99.99 at Macy's
If you own a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, this is the ice cream maker for you. After chilling in the freezer for 14 to 24 hours, this= attachment snaps into the stand mixer. You won't need an extra kitchen appliance to make ice cream, but advanced planning and freezer space are required.
Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream
$399.95 at Williams-Sonoma
This fully automatic ice cream maker churnsout frozen desserts in just an hour. Entirely self contained,this model doesn't require chilling a canister in advance. If you've got extra cash and storage space, this is the model for you.