You'd think after last month’s butternut squash ice cream brainstorm that I was obsessed with ice cream. Well, I am! I'm also a big fan of combining unique flavor combinations… within reason of course (no horseradish and vanilla, please). So when you combine those two sides of me, along with a brain that fires on all synapses, you end up with Pineapple Pink Pepper Sorbet. It's even fun to say!
I got into a huge vegan ice cream making kick about 9 years ago, so I bought a super cheap refurbished ice cream maker, and used it all the time. Eventually it broke, but last year I bought a new one (this time a non-refurbished one), which I've used quite a bit over the past few months.
Below is a photo of my current ice cream maker. All models are different, but they have two main important parts to them; the dasher and the freezer bowl. The dasher (also called a blade) is like a giant two/sided paddle that mixes the ice cream in the freezer bowl. The freezer bowl (also called a freezing canister) is where the mixture goes into. You'll almost always need to freeze your freezer bowl before working the ice cream maker, unless you have a $300 ice cream maker (SO not necessary by the way). Mine was $50 and that's good enough for me. The freezer bowl is double insulated with a liquid gel freezing agent, to prevent condensation (condensation = ice crystals).
Speaking of ice crystals, the most important thing to remember when making ice cream or sorbet is to make sure your mixture is cold before it goes into the machine. You may some recipes that will tell you to just purée your ingredients and process it in the machine, but with most of those recipes, you must warm at least some components of your mixture. The warmer your mixture is (even if it's room temperature), the more time it has to spend in the machine, which can lead to water molecules forming ice crystals, giving you a texture closer to a slushie than a smooth frozen treat. This is something to be especially careful about when making sorbet because it's mostly water, and unlike ice cream, there's little, if any fat to help curb ice crystal formation.
Crystallization also occurs if your freezer bowl isn't cold enough, so give it ample time to freeze. I freeze mine for at least 12 hours. Remember, the less time your mixture has to spend in the machine, the smoother your ice creams and sorbets will be.
So how'd I get the idea of pineapple and pink pepper? Recently I came to work at The Chopping Block on one very early morning. I was in a rush, and didn't grab breakfast. But luckily, our super amazing Chef Melissa Novak was there to save the day with this lovely fruit salad she made for all the staff. It had pineapple (my favorite), blueberries, honeydew, fresh mint, and these little pink speckles on them. I was curious to what they were, but I was so hungry, my only question was “Is this vegan?”
Upon confirmation, I devoured a small bowl of the fruit salad in seconds. After tasting, I realized those little speckles were pink peppercorns! The subtle nuttiness and sweetness from the pepper, along with their soft crunch, complimented the bright flavors of the fruit, especially the pineapple. Plus the pink looked so pretty studded all over the yellow.
Pink peppercorns are actually not related to your run of the mill (no pun intended there) black and tellicherry peppercorns. They are the dried fruit from a shrub called Schinus Molle, or the Peruvian Peppertree, and they are actually part of the cashew family. Also unlike your regular old peppercorns, they have a soft, mildly sweet, and nutty flavor. They grind very easily too, so even if you bite into a whole one, you won't be hit with such an intense flavor like if you were to bite into a black peppercorn.
This sorbet will make about 1 quart and total prep time, both active and inactive, will be about 3 hours, which includes time for your mixture to chill and set.
Pineapple Pink Pepper Sorbet
1/3 - 1/2 cup each sugar and water (depending on how sweet your pineapple is)
1 fresh pineapple, cut into chunks OR 5 cups frozen pineapple chunks
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp pink peppercorns, crushed
Pour sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and let boil until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear. Remove from heat and pour into a food processor or blender along with the pineapple and lemon juice. Purée until smooth. Chill the mixture until cold. Once cold, freeze according to your ice cream maker manufacturer’s instructions. Once the sorbet looks like it's mostly solidified, add your peppercorns in and let mix until incorporated (mixing them in any earlier will cause your sorbet to have more of a muted orange hue, as opposed to a pretty yellow with little pink speckles.)
If you like a softer sorbet, you can eat it right away, or let it firm up in a freezer safe airtight container for at least an hour. Either way, once you're ready, serve it in a fancy bowl or glass, and garnish with fresh mint.
Want to see what other vegan offerings this summer has to offer? Come check out our outdoor Vegan BBQ On The Grill grilling class (designed by yours truly) on August 22nd at our Lincoln Square location. The July session is already sold out, so reserve your spot today!
In the meantime, check out our new Vegan from Scratch guide which contains a lot of my vegan recipes. Even if you aren't vegan, they are great ways to make the move to more plant-based foods in your diet.