Loving Spoonfuls for You and Your Valentine: “Grapefruit and Campari Sorbet” from Sweet

Grapefruit Sorbet

I’ve had a love affair for years before I met Magellan. With grapefruit. Every year since I first made it in 2017, “Grapefruit and Campari Sorbet” from the cookbook, Sweet, has been our Christmas dessert.

And here’s the thing, the reason it’s become our go-to finale is because it’s not sweet.

This sorbet is light, vibrant, tangy and refreshing.

The ruby red of both the grapefruit and Campari made me think: why not serve it on Valentine’s Day instead of a too-rich chocolate dessert?

Sorbets have been around for ages. As far back as 3000 BC in Asia. The co-author of the cookbook from which this recipe comes is Helen Goh, who grew up in Malaysia.

Helen Goh (Photo: SooPhye)

In an interview with Grub Street, Helen says that as a kid, “At the table, you would not get away with just, ‘Thanks, Mum.’ You would have to say what was nice about the food, what you didn’t like, and how could she improve it the next time. I mean, every single meal was a discussion.” Good training for developing a discerning palate.

Helen’s family moved to Australia, a country renowned for its sweet tooth.

She didn’t plan a career as a pastry chef. Helen was working for a pharmacy company and studying to be a psychotherapist in the 1990s when her boyfriend received a small redundancy payment and they spontaneously opened a café. “It was sheer stupidity,” she told Dani Valent in Medium. “Neither of us had experience. We’d run out of money by the time we opened and I remember standing in the kitchen and thinking, ‘Oh f — , now I’ve got to cook.’ I bought books, I followed recipes, we worked 20-hour days, living above the store.”

(She learned about sweets by reading one of my favourite cookbooks, Emily Luchetti’s Four-Star Desserts.)

Helen worked as a pastry chef at another restaurant for seven years before moving to London to be with her boyfriend-now-husband. Tired of the long hours and testosterone-fuelled atmosphere of restaurants, she decided to get her doctorate in psychology. While studying, she began working for London’s Yotam Ottolenghi, the hugely successful restauranteur and author of award-winning best-selling cookbooks. (No slouch is she?) That turned into a full-time job and when she casually suggested the idea of co-writing a book, Yotam agreed, leading to Sweet, his sixth cookbook, her first.

Looks like a heavy pour!

You may be thinking, “Grapefruit. Helen sounds like a cool person but no way!”

My grapefruits were so large that each one produced a cup of juice

But…

A medium grapefruit gives you 100% of your daily requirement of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that’s great for your immune system.

Grapefruit lowers your blood-sugar levels and has proved to significantly reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

You sorbet makers out there may be thinking, “Alcohol in a sorbet. No way.”

It’s true that alcohol lowers the freezing point of a sorbet, making it less stable. Too much of it and a sorbet won’t freeze.

But Helen’s recipe works. Her sorbet freezes well, isn’t full of icy crystals, and is soft and easy to scoop. Do as she suggests, though, and put your dessert glasses in the freezer beforehand.

If you must have chocolate, make her recipe for “Chocolate-Dipped Grapefruit Peel” to accompany the sorbet. Personally, I love spooning up Helen’s sorbet with a few “Grapefruit-Fennel Shortbread Cookies” decorated with candied grapefruit peel.

The love affair continues…

Campari and Grapefruit Sorbet from Helen Goh

I have made two changes to Helen's recipe. 1. Strain your juices! 2. Just before serving, spoon a tablespoon of Campari over the sorbet. Helen doesn't suggest you do this in the recipe, but the photo that accompanies it (see above) gives you the idea…
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 cups freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice (from 2-4 grapefruits depending on their size)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup Campari

Instructions

  • Combine the grapefruit juice, orange juice and lemon juice. Mix together. Strain through a sieve.
  • Pour 1 cup of the juice mixture into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes, then pour in the remaining juice mixture.
  • Place the mixture in the fridge to chill. When chilled, transfer to an ice cream maker and churn every few minutes until the mixture solidifies. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent ice crystals and freeze for at least four hours.
  • If you don't have an ice cream maker, put the mixture into the freezer and stir it every few hours to break up the ice crystals, then freeze for at least four hours.
  • Serve in chilled martini glasses (the sorbet melts quickly so it's important the glasses are icy cold) with a splash of Campari, top with candied grapefruit strips and if you're making them, a grapefruit-fennel cookie.
The first year this dessert was made for Christmas dinner

Candied Grapefruit Peel from Helen Goh

"Whew" I wrote on this recipe when I first made in in 2017. Note that it takes at least an hour to cook and 12 hours to dry. Helen has you dip the grapefruit peel into melted dark chocolate, which is lovely with the sorbet but I also like it to cut the peel smaller and scatter it atop the sorbet and use it in cocktails.

Ingredients

  • 3 ruby red grapefruit
  • 4 1/4 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 ounces dark chocolate

Instructions

  • Before you juice the grapefruits for the sorbet, slice each grapefruit into quarters and then cut each quarter in half lengthwise so oyu have eight segments (sixteen total.) Separate the fruit form the thick peel with a small paring knife and halve each of the sixteen segments so you have thirty-two pieces.
  • Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Toss in the grapefruit segments and blanch for 30 seconds. Rinse under cold water. Repeat this process using fresh water once more. This removes some of the bitterness of the peel.
  • Place the grapefruit peel on a kitchen towel and dry thoroughly to prevent the sugar syrup from crystallizing later.
  • Combine the water, sugar, cinnamon and bay leaf and cook over medium-high heat until the sugar gas dissolved. Bring to a boil, add the grapefruit peel, cover and simmer for 60-90 minutes until the peels are translucent and there is about 1/2 cup of syrup left.
  • Using tongs, transfer the grapefruit peel to a wire rack and let dry for 12 hours or longer.
  • Melt the chocolate. Piece by piece, dip the grapefruit peel into the chocolate, shake gently to remove the excess and transfer to the wire rack to cool.

Navigation

Ottonlenghi, Yotam; with Helen Goh & Tara Wigley. Sweet. California: Ten Speed Press, 2017. New York Times bestseller.  Finalist for the 2018 James Beard Foundation Book Awards for “Baking and Desserts” and “Photography” categories. Finalist for the 2018 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Cookbook Award for “Baking” category.

Tishgart, Sierra. “How Helen Goh Became Yotam Ottolenghi’s Go-to Baker.” Grub Street: New York Magazine.October 25, 2017.

Valent, Dani. “Goh, you good thing.” Medium: Dec 10, 2017.

4 Responses

  1. Oh my I LOVE this…Grapefruit one of my faves, and being in Mexico..easily accessible. Unfortunately, no oven so I’ll have to wait to do the peel..looking forward to it..Happy Valentines Day to you two lovebirds, and keep us informed with the weekly reads! ❤️🎶🍷, Heather

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