Palate cleansers are the pinnacle of chic-cuisine. If you are lucky enough to partake in the decadence of a multi-course meal, a palate cleanser is the conventional means of invigorating your appetite whilst readying your senses for the bold tastes of the main course.
A cleanser evokes historic French fare, which made it perfect for a Marie Antoinette-themed dinner party I planned for a girlfriend recently. Traditionally, palate cleansers are light sorbets in crisp clean flavors - mint, grapefruit, basil, or lemon. For this particular dinner, I toyed with the idea of a pink grapefruit sorbet - but settled on mint, opting for a more delicate taste to compliment the heavy menu. Determined to make the palate cleanser pink, I added food coloring to achieve the appropriate level of girlishness.
After sampling, I asked one of my guests to describe the sorbet. She replied, “it is truly perfection! A refreshing cross between cotton candy and a mint popsicle. I could eat bowls of it.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. xx tt
· 1 cup chopped mint leaves (1-2 bunches)
· 2 cups water
· 1 + ½ cup granulated sugar
· ¼ cup gewürztraminer wine
· 1 teaspoon lemon juice
· 1 tablespoon neon pink food coloring
· BEFORE YOU START PUT YOUR ICE CREAM MAKER BOWL IN THE FREEZER (my Kitchen-Aid mixer takes 14 hours to chill)
· Wash the mint leaves, and chop coarsely
· Put the mint leaves, water, and sugar into a medium saucepan – bring to a simmer
· Cover the saucepan, lower the heat slightly, and cook for three minutes until the sugar is dissolved
· Remove from the heat, and pour into a large bowl
· Cover the bowl with saranwrap, and set aside for one-hour (allows mint to infuse the simple syrup)
· After an hour, you will need to separate the simple syrup (sugar + water) from the mint leaves – and there are a few ways to do this:
The most convenient way is to take a cheesecloth and put it over a bowl, then carefully pour the syrup over the cloth, a little bit at a time. The mint will stay trapped in the cloth, while the syrup seeps through.
If you don’t mind some of the mint leaves ending up in your sorbet, then you can use a regular sieve, but pouring the syrup through the sieve into a bowl
For my sorbet, I separated the mint leaves by using a chinois (a sieve with an extremely fine mesh). This is an amazing kitchen tool, but will cost about $90 (also used for pomme puree, soups, sauces, custards, etc). If you are using a chinois, pour in the mixture, and let the syrup seep through – pressing it with a pestle (which comes with the chinois) to make sure that all of the syrup finds its way through
· Once you have mint-leave-free syrup, stir in the white wine and lemon juice
· Chill mixture in your refrigerator for two+ hours (I chilled mine overnight)
· Stir in the pink food coloring (or any color you fancy)
· Pour mixture into a water pitcher to ease transferring it to the ice-cream maker
· Serve in these gorgeous bowls from Crate and Barrel