Few things are more refreshing and appealing than a freshly made (and home made!) frozen dessert. Ice cream, sorbets, sherbets, granitas and other frozen desserts can all be easily created, even if you don’t have an ice cream maker. Without one, however, you will have to do the churning manually. After you assemble your mixture to be frozen, pour it into a heavy duty plastic container and cover well. Place into the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove and whip mixture using a hand-held mixer for a minute or so, until thickened. Recover and freeze for another 15 minutes. Whip again as described. Do this over and over until mixture is no longer “whip-able.”
If you’re not sure what the difference is between sorbets, sherbets and granitas:
Sherbet: Similar to a sorbet in texture, sherbets are lighter than ice cream but thicker and richer than a granita. Sherbets are frozen mixtures usually containing some form of texture enhancer such as milk products, egg whites or gelatin.
Sorbet: Actually the French word for sherbet, although not really a sherbet in “classic terms.” Although sorbets were originally never made with milk, today (depending on the cook) the term sorbet and sherbet seem to have become almost synonymous. Generally speaking, I think of sherbert as being creamier and more emulsified than a sorbet.
Granita: (Italian spelling) or granité (French spelling). Pronounced “grah-nee-tah,” this frozen mixture is usually made up of four parts liquid (fruit juice, wine or coffee) and 1 part sweetener (granulated sugar or a mixture of sugar and corn syrup (the latter combination produces a smoother, less granular granita). Granitas are more granular than both sherbets and sorbets. Granitas flavored with citrus juice (or other clean non-obtrusive tastes) are frequently served as a “palate cleanser” in between two savory courses at an elegant dinner.