With seemingly not much to celebrate in our world at the moment, Mother Nature and those who assist her (the growers, the pickers, the cultivators, the sellers) are truly sowing joy as summer has officially begun at our local farmers markets (visiting them with masks and social distancing required and no sampling allowed; no selecting your own fruit either—where I live, you just leave it up to the experts to choose the ripest, readiest fruit). I am thinking now of the perfumed melons whose flesh comes in an array of colors and flavor profiles plentiful on the tables of my favorite vendors at the market. From honeydew to cantaloupe and all of the variants in between (orange-fleshed Charentais to light green Galia and Ogen varieties, to name just a few), juicy melons are the perfect fruit to use when making a creamy sorbet: Fruit puree and sugar, and perhaps a squeeze of lime juice — that and some time are all that are needed to turn these fruits into a delicious and refreshing star for a dessert in a glass. Where does the tea come in? Twice. It is first brewed and chilled before mixing into the melon puree for the sorbet. And then secondly, to reinforce the delicacy of the tea in the dessert, you can brew up some more, chill it, and pour a bit over the sorbet just before serving.
Start with the most aromatic and juicy melon you can find. Peel and seed it, cut it up into chunks, and then puree it using a blender or food processor. Make a tea-scented simple syrup (bring equal parts sugar and brewed tea to the boil to dissolve the sugar). Combine the melon puree and this tea syrup and place into an ice cream machine if you have one, or into a shallow freezer-safe dish. If you are using the ice cream machine you will achieve the smoothest results. If you are going low-tech, you will wind up with an icier textured sorbet. Either works.
Here are the rough proportions.
To serve 4 generously
- 3 ounces brewed oolong tea
- 3 ounces sugar
- 10 ounces pureed melon (from each pound of melon you will yield about 9-10 ounces)
- Fresh lime juice to taste
- Bring the brewed tea and sugar to a boil and simmer only until dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
- Now gradually add the tea syrup to the melon puree along with a bit of lime juice, to taste (taste as you go, given that the melon can vary in sweetness, depending on the variety and the ripeness—stop adding syrup and lime juice when you have reached the desired balanced sweetness but keep in mind that the mixture once frozen will not taste as sweet) and freeze as noted above.
- To serve, brew some additional oolong, chill it, and then scoop some sorbet into each glass, pour a bit of tea over it and serve immediately.
Pure iced enchantment.