‘Old school’ Raspberry sorbet (prepared with Italian meringue)
Raspberry sorbet – even when prepared in the easy, “standard sorbet way” – usually turns out very nicely. But this time, we will go that extra mile and add a further delicious dimension – with the help of classic soft Italian meringue. Read on!
While slightly more laboursome than just whisking together a typical sorbet, you will find that the result really speaks for itself. The soft Italian meringue is not used as an add-in (such as the crisp meringues used in other recipes). Instead, it becomes an integral part of the sorbet, generally improving the consistency and, arguably, the flavour-depth. And unlike the often-seen suggestion to whisk in raw egg whites in sorbets, properly prepared Italian meringue should also be “health safe”.
UPDATE: For an egg-free alternative to Italian meringue – make aquafaba meringue: it’s actually easier, and provides the same advantages!
First step: Make ‘sugar-adjusted’ simple sugar syrup, purée the raspberries and prepare the sorbet base
The simple sugar syrup (adjusted)
Simple sugar syrup (= a mix of sugar and water) is a standard core ingredient when making sorbets. But since the Italian meringue contains quite a lot of sugar, the basic sorbet-recipe needs to be adjusted accordingly: otherwise, the end-result would likely end up being sickeningly sweet.
The base recipe I normally would use for sorbets typically contains 500 ml of simple sugar syrup (=made up of equal parts of water and sugar). For this recipe, however, I would suggest that you start out with a simple sugar syrup made up of 2 parts water and 1 part sugar.
For 500 ml sugar syrup, this would mean about 170 ml (0.7 cup) sugar and the rest water. This will work out nicely in the end anyway, since the Italian meringue will add about 40 ml (0.16 cup) of sugar in itself.
I find berries easy to love, and raspberries particularly lovable. They already figure in a few recipes on this site (check out my favourite raspberry frozen yoghurt, for example). For this recipe, both fresh and frozen berries will do fine. And all you actually have to do is to purée them (using a handheld mixer typically does the trick for me), and add the lemon juice.
Following the standard sorbet recipe, I would recommend an amount of berries equal to the amount of sugar syrup: in this case, about 500 ml (2 cups).
Personally, I like to feel the raspberry seeds when enjoying my sorbet. In case you happen to be one of those who hate any hint of solid texture in your sorbet, however, feel free to run the purée through a sieve – that way, you will end up with a perfectly smooth sorbet.
Second step: Prepare Italian meringue = make more hot sugar syrup and whisk with egg whites and sugar
How to make Italian meringue
As you may remember, my chef friend Peter Englund taught me how to prepare Italian meringue. All the detailed instructions (including all the good things to be said about this truly classic sorbet-ingredient) are in this post: go there for the exact recipe!
In super-short summary, begin by making (yet another) sugar syrup [note, however, that the proportions of sugar and water now should be roughly 2 sugar to 1 water!]. This time, the sugar syrup should also be boiling hot!
Then, preferably using a kitchen assistant, whisk together the egg whites and the sugar.
Once foamy and soft [think softly whipped cream], begin to – while whisking continuously – drizzle in the hot sugar syrup. Continue whisking until the meringue has reached a half-baked, firmer stage [think firmly whipped cream]. This process should take about 10-15 minutes or so.
On the quantity of Italian meringue to be prepared
If you follow my instructions, you would only use about 1/4 of the Italian meringue to be prepared. So, why make more than needed?
Mainly because it can be rather difficult to make smaller quantities, practically speaking. But making more than strictly necessary will also save you quite a lot of time and efforts when it is time to make your next sorbet: the prepared meringue stores wonderfully in the freezer, making the preparation of the next few batches of sorbet a breeze.
Third step: Churn the sorbet base and blend in the Italian meringue when the sorbet is almost ready
Yes, that’s it. You are almost done now.
The meringue should be well blended into the sorbet, after which you may continue churning a few more minutes in the ice cream machine. But at this stage, you could also simply pour the sorbet into a freezer-safe container, cover with plastic film and a lid and put it straight into the freezer.
Again, be mindful about how much meringue you add – for a standard batch of sorbet, count with the meringue-equivalent of (roughly) 1 egg white. If you overdose, you will end up with a sorbet-variety called spoom. But unlike spooms, the main idea here is that the meringue never should change the basic flavour- and consistency character of the sorbet – only enhance the good qualities and making them better, not different.
This Old school Raspberry sorbet really stands out in comparison to typical “standard” sorbets. The pure fruit flavour is there, and even seems to have received a boost in terms of flavour depth. And both the consistency and structure are impeccable! Food-technically speaking, the meringue acts as a stabiliser and ensures that enough of the important air is maintained within the sorbet. Even prolonged storage in the freezer did not bring about any particular deterioration, and the sorbet remained perfectly scoopable all along.
These days, my friend Peter the chef tells me, most chefs no longer bother with making Italian meringue for sorbets – instead, they often just add some whisked-up raw egg white. But while it may seem a bit tedious to prepare the Italian meringue, I strongly hope that all real lovers of sorbets and ice creams at least once get the chance to experience the greatness of sorbets prepared this classic way. I even have some friends who claimed to ‘not really like sorbets’ but changed their minds after having tasted this recipe!
Since the Italian meringue is not supposed to impact on the main flavour (other than to boost it, possibly) it is perhaps a bit difficult to understand what could possibly make it all so good. But trust me – once you have had a taste, you will understand 🙂
- 500 ml (2 cups) raspberries (fresh or frozen)
- 500 ml (2 cups) simple sugar syrup (made up of about 2 parts water and 1 part sugar; the exact proportions will depend on the amount of Italian meringue used)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- About 150-200 ml (about 0.6-0.8 cup) Italian meringue [prepared as per the recipe in the post on Italian meringue (see that one!), mainly based on a quantity of 4 egg whites]
- Purée the raspberries and add the lemon juice.
- Prepare the simple sugar syrup [here with a reduced amount of sugar, in order to adjust for the sugar to be added through the Italian meringue].
- Prepare the Italian meringue [see the post on Italian meringue for recipe and instructions]
- Mix the raspberry purée with the sugar syrup for the sorbet and churn in your ice cream machine according to instructions.
- When the sorbet is almost ready, add about 150-200 ml (about 0.6-0.8 cup) of the Italian meringue. Whisk well and continue to churn a little in your ice cream machine, or transfer the sorbet to a freezer-safe container straight away, cover it with plastic film and a lid and put it in the freezer.
Here is the link to the Italian meringue-recipe: