I was trying to decide on a sorbet flavor for an upcoming dinner party, and I ran across this Apple-Celery combination from Michael Laiskonis. That sounded like a good fit with the other flavors I had planned, and the apples are both seasonally appropriate (from storage) and local here in the Pacific Northwest. Read on to find out just how many amazing chefs helped me work out the details.
When I went to make the recipe the first time, I ran into a few issues that made it a bit challenging in a home kitchen. Chef Laiskonis’ recipe is designed for a world-class restaurant, and calls for glucose powder, sorbet stabilizer, and commercial apple puree, none of which I keep stocked! So for my first try, I juiced Mutsu apples on our Champion juicer, substituted a guesstimate amount of corn syrup for the glucose powder, and omitted the stabilizer completely.
The result was absolutely delicious, exactly the flavors I was looking for. Bracing, totally palate cleansing, not overly sweet. Consulting with my very select panel of tasters, we decided to increase the apple to celery ratio a bit for next batch, but overall I was really happy with it. The only problem was that by the next day, it had gotten icy instead of smooth. Clearly my substitutions weren’t going to cut it. Also, I found the yield to be a bit lower than Chef Laiskonis’ recipe. I emailed with him, and we figured out the difference was probably due to the apple product and how much air gets incorporated in spinning. Oh, and it turned a slightly unpleasant brown color because my juice oxidized.
When I went to make the next batch, I searched out glucose powder and found it at Seattle Home Cake Decorating Supply. If you live in Seattle and bake at all, you’ve got to stop in there. I’d be shocked if you don’t find a piece of gear you can’t live without. And the owner is incredibly helpful and nice. They don’t even have a website, just go.
Next, I checked with Dana Cree, pastry chef at Poppy and one of the real rising stars in American pastry and co-author of tastingmenu.com, to find out where I could buy sorbet stabilizer in our fair city. She gave me a much better idea – use xanthan gum instead.
Xanthan gum is a nice introduction to so-called molecular gastronomy. It is easy to find at natural foods stores because gluten-free bakers use it to improve texture. I love to use it to thicken sauces, because it gives you great control over viscosity without altering the flavor, and it hydrates at room temperature so you don’t have to cook your product. It has good pseudoplasticity, meaning it will seem thick on the plate but thin nicely under pressure in your mouth. I didn’t realize it would also work to stabilize a sorbet, but it worked a treat, as the Brits say. I’ve had a batch in my freezer for a week and it shows minimal crystallization.
Finally, out of pure luck I saw a tweet from my friend Traca of Seattle Tall Poppy where she mentioned that she was going to an apple tasting with Chef Jason Wilson of Crush. I asked her to request any hot tips from him. Mere hours later, I heard back from Traca that he said to use Pinata apples, strain it very thoroughly, and add calcium citrate to preserve the color.
I couldn’t find the Pinatas, but I went to the University District Farmer’s Market on Saturday, and had my own little impromptu tasting with Wynne from Jerzy Boyz Farm, and we settled on two heirloom apple varieties: Gold Rush and Golden Russets.
So, um, holy cow. Now I’m making a modified Michael Laiskonis recipe, with tips from Dana Cree and Jason Wilson, and apples direct from the grower. It is pretty amazing to me the way the blogosphere makes it possible to communicate and cross-pollinate ideas. And it results in a damn tasty sorbet, too. Thanks for all the help guys!
Apple and Celery Sorbet
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free
Makes about 2.5 cups (600 ml), enough for at least 6 small servings as a palate cleanser
- 65 grams granulated sugar
- 35 grams glucose powder
- 110 grams water
- 2 pinches sodium citrate or citric acid
- 282 grams freshly made apple juice (requires about 3 pounds of apples, peeled and cored)
- 117 grams freshly made celery juice (requires about 1/3 head of celery)
- 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
- celery leaves for garnish
- Bring the water to a boil with the granulated sugar and glucose powder. Boil for 30 seconds. Cool, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- Put the citric acid powder in a container and juice the apples directly into it. This will help prevent any oxidation.
- Strain the apple and celery juices and combine them in a blender with the sorbet base. With the blender running on a low speed, carefully remove the top and sprinkle in the xanthan gum. Put the top back on, raise the speed to medium, and blend for 5 minutes.
- Process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It should turn nicely pale when it is sufficiently aerated.
- Garnish with a celery leaf.