Sherbet for happiness

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The taste of plum sherbet, so rich and heady, will possibly be forever associated with happiness for me from now on.

Let me tell you a story, and forgive me if I get a bit cheesy here and there: last summer, approximately this time of the year, we discovered that my dad, as many other ill-fated people in the world, had developed cancer. We were knocked off our feet and our landing was pretty rough, while we struggled to grasp at what had happened. Then, we started to react, and try to fix up this terrible illness while keeping our lives – work, study, friends and all those little things that make it so worth the fight – going on. It is a long journey, as many of you sadly know. A long, and ongoing excercise of optimism, patience, perseverance and love.
Through this journey, we had the help of so many friends – so many! – that we will probably never be able to thank enough for their support, both material and spiritual; and so, day on and day off, with fear and hope keeping us company all along, a whole year has passed.
Then, on my dad usual bimestral check, we discovered that the cancer had disappeared. It was gone. We were knocked down again, this time from joy and utter bewilderment. I’m unable to tell you what that meant exactly. We know this is a continual and neverending journey, but for now, we are just content. And happy. More than happy.

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The morning we received the news, I was just fiddling around, trying to get a grip on myself, because these check-up days are always so scary ( I really can’t emphasize this enough ); then, out of the blue, we – my sister and I, waiting at home- received that news. Bewildering, extraordinary.
And then, after an indescribable happy dance and inner switching on of every possible light , just like this, I had this sudden urge to make this sherbet. Yes, I know. Don’t ask, it simply happened. It seems so absurd, doesn’t it? Maybe, I just needed something comforting and intense to keep my pace. Or maybe I just needed to find tranquillity in such a simple, manual activity ( you can’t even imagine – or maybe you do – how much comfort and cuddly moments are needed when a good news hits. Even more so than with a bad news ).

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And so I did. This is my first take on sherbet ( actually, I had never even heard of it before stumbling upon a recipe on Aran’s blog Cannelle et Vanille ), and it was definitely delicious. Or it was because it tasted like joy?
Either way – wheter you’re mourning, or jumping up and down with happiness, or simply enjoying quietly your life – try this one. Maybe a tiny drop of my happiness has gone into the recipe, and will be able to reach you.

Roasted plum and buttermilk sherbet

For this one, I used homemade buttermilk for one simple reasons: buttermilk is a pretty difficult ingredient to find here in Italy. You can definitely substitute a store-bought, good quality organic buttermilk if you prefer, or you can choose to use plain yogurt instead ( not greek style yogurt, which is too thick for this recipe ). And yes, I know the buttermilk I’ve used in this recipe is not ” proper ” buttermilk ( the liquid resulting from the making of the butter ), but it is a pretty handy recipe, and I’ve loved the result, actually.
For the plums, as you can see in the photos, I’ve used a miscellaneous of sizes and varieties – to be honest, I simply happened to have these in the crate -, but you can definitely choose the variety you prefer; just remember to check their sugar content by tasting them before placing them in the oven, to adjust the amount of sugar needed. For myself, I was looking for a tangy, not overly sweet sherbet, but if you prefer it differently, feel free to adjust it to your own tastes: it is a very forgiving recipe.

For the buttermilk:

  • 50 ml ( 1/4 cup ) whole milk
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar

For the sherbet:

  • 1 kg ( 2 lbs ) plums ( quarter the bigger ones, halve the medium-sized )
  • 1 tbs runny honey
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 200g. ( 6 tbs ) natural cane sugar
  • 100 ml (1/2 cup ) water

Per heat the oven to 325F ( 160C ).

For the buttermilk: In a bowl, combine the milk with the vinegar and stir gently to combine; let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes, until the milk curdles and thickens. Place the mixture in the fridge until required.

Place the plums in a shallow baking tray, and drizzle with the honey; dust with cinnamon and ginger, and bake in the oven fr 40 minutes, or until tender but not mushy. Let aside to cool, then pit the fruits.

In a heavy based pan, combine the sugar and water; place it over low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved; then, cook over medium heat and let it come to a boil; let it cook for a minute more, then remote the pan from the heat. Let it cool.

Puree the cooled fruits in a mixer and sieve the resulting flesh ( I’ve leaved some bits whole for the texture ). Add the puree to the sugar syrup, along with the reserved buttermilk, and stir to combine. Pour it in an ice cream machine and follow the intructions. If you haven’t an ice cream machine ( just like me ), then pour the sherbet base in a freezer-safe shallow pan and put it in the freezer for 45 minutes; then, scrape it with a fork and return to the freezer. Repeat a couple of times, then, place it in the freezer until ready and hardened.

Extract the sherbet from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving. It will not disappoint.

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