When strawberries are season (like they are now), you have a few options. Option one: eat them raw. Option two: eat them raw dipped in homemade whipped cream. Option three: Strawberry Shortcake. All of these are totally reasonable options — especially option three (which I plan to make this weekend for a friend’s birthday) — only, are they the most strawberry-forward options? Well, the raw strawberries, yes. You don’t get more strawberry-forward than a raw strawberry. Or do you? What if you blend them and perk them up with sugar, lemon juice, and a few other secret ingredients and then give them a spin in an ice cream maker? You’ll wind up with something even better than a raw strawberry. You’ll wind up with my sassy strawberry sorbet.
Start with the Sweetest Strawberries
Strawberries can be deceptive. Just because they’re red, just because they’re at the farmer’s market, doesn’t mean that they’re actually good. Your best bet is to bite into one (ask permission, if you must) and see if the strawberry sings. If it’s giving strawberry aria, you’re ready to sorbet! If not, then maybe the time isn’t right yet. In that case, make chocolate sorbet and let’s come back to this later.
Blend ‘Em Up
Don’t show David Lebovitz this picture: I’m going to get yelled at for cutting the strawberries the wrong way! You’re actually supposed to hull them. I even have the right knife for it. But some of us have children to raise (okay, I don’t) and dogs to walk (I do), so forgive me my slicing method. The point is: they go into the food processor and you blend them. It’s really not that hard.
And then you add sugar and lemon juice and blend again.
How much sugar? For two quarts of strawberries, you want one cup. Truthfully, I didn’t really measure here: I just hulled (sliced) three pints of strawberries, blended them, and added a cup of sugar and the lemon juice and tasted. It tasted good! That’s how I knew I was on to something.
Pssst… A Few Secret Ingredients
When I tasted my strawberries and sugar and lemon I liked it, but I was a little bored. So first, I did what Ina Garten might do and I added a splash of Framboise. She’s always adding Framboise to things. Framboise is a raspberry liqueur, so isn’t exactly a strawberry flavor, but it’s a berry flavor and a little alcohol in sorbet is a good thing. It keeps things soft.
Then, on a whim, I decided to add some Kashmiri chili powder and some Aleppo pepper. I liked the idea of a warming heat that takes my customer (or dinner party guest) by surprise. I added a little at first, and tasted, and then I added a little more. Basically I just stood there adding chili and tasting strawberry liquid until I was happy.
Netflix and Churn
After straining the sorbet base (make sure to press with a rubber spatula to get all the liquid through), I chilled it in the fridge for two hours and then churned. When it finished churning — see lead photo — it was pure joy to taste a little off my tasting spoon and to see how the chilies and lemon juice and Framboise all helped the strawberries pop. This sorbet was alive, baby!
When I served this at dinner that night, my friend Ryan went nuts for it. “You should sell this!” he said. “For real… people would go crazy for it.” He loved it so much that he took the rest of it home (with my permission).
So give my Sassy Strawberry Sorbet a try. As an alternative to the Kashmiri chili powder, you could add a red chili to the food processor along with the strawberries. If you do that, let me know! We’re all open to new experiences here at Sassy Strawberry Sorbet headquarters.
Sassy Strawberry Sorbet
- 2 quarts strawberries, washed and hulled
- 1 cup sugar
- Juice of one lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon Framboise
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, plus more to taste
- Place your hulled strawberries in the bowl of a food processor and process until the whole thing is liquid and smooth. Add the sugar, half the lemon juice, and salt and blend again. Taste and add more lemon juice if it needs it.
- Now for the fun: add the Framboise, the Kashmiri chili powder, and Aleppo pepper. Blend and taste. Adjust for heat — if you like it sassier, go for it.
- Strain the mixture (I like to do it into a large measuring glass), cover, and chill for at least two hours. Then churn in your ice cream maker according to your ice cream maker instructions (at least 20 minutes; you'll know it's done when the whole thing looks like sorbet). Scoop into a quart container and freeze for a few more hours, before serving.