roasted strawberry buttermilk sherbet

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It can be easy to forget in the dark days of January, when the only strawberries in Chicago are more sour than sweet and hard as rocks, just what fresh strawberries really taste like. Then, when they are the first fruit to make an appearance at local farmers' markets, I go crazy, bringing home more baskets of fruit than I can possibly eat. But that's fine, because since April I've been stashing recipes like this one for roasted strawberry buttermilk sherbet.

People often ask how one goes about making homemade ice cream and the like. Unfortunately, except for granitas, it almost always requires an ice cream maker. I've never regretted buying one, but I'll admit it's a one-use device that takes up a decent share of cabinet space. However, homemade ice cream is delicious and allows tinkering with flavors store brands could never mass produce. For example, sherbets that aren't orange and lime.

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Sherbets, by the way, are differentiated from sorbets in that they contain some dairy, but not as much as ice cream. Ice cream also traditionally contains eggs. Here, buttermilk and a bit of sour cream serve as the dairy, adding some tartness to the sweetness of the strawberries and sugar. Which, honestly, ended up being a lot of sweetness. This sherbet is delicious but intense: I actually struggled to finish the serving you see ahead. The key to the intense is "roasting" the strawberries to concentrate their flavor. I use quotes because it was 90 degrees outside and there was no way I was turning my oven to over 400 degrees, so I cooked the strawberries and sugar in my cast iron skillet. I include the original recipe's method here as well, because it requires less attention and may provide some caramelization I missed out on.

roasted strawberry buttermilk sherbet
Adapted from Bon Appetit July 2013

Notes: I'd like to proudly note that my sherbet is about 6 shades darker than the picture in Bon Appetit. If you are also opposed to turning on your oven, strawberries can also be "roasted" with the sugar in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, stirred occasionally to prevent burning. In addition, the original recipe does not call for you to chill the puree; I do, because unless you have a restaurant grade ice cream maker you'll never get the right texture.

4 cups strawberries (about 1 pound), hulled, and halved if large
1 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup sour cream
pinch of kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Combine the strawberries and sugar in a 9×13 inch pan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into the mix and toss to combine. Roast the berries at 425 for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until juices are bubbling. Let cool.

Puree the berry mixture and remaining ingredients in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight to chill the mixture. Then process the mixture in an ice cream machine according to the maker's instructions. Once sherbet is done churning, transfer to an airtight container and freeze. The churned mixture will be slightly too soft, but freezing will firm up the texture.

The sherbet can be made up to 1 week ahead, kept frozen. To serve, let soften 15 minutes at room temperature. Possibly smush between lemon cookies to form an ice cream sandwich.

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