chai spiced apple cider sorbet

chai spiced apple cider sorbet

november 17, 2012



     This past week marked Virginia’s very first Cider Week.  The apple cider lauded was hard cider, fermented to elevate alcohol content, placing it in the spirits category.  There are currently six licensed cideries in Virginia and our local Ellwood Thompson’s Natural Market in Carytown carries all these golden brews.  By spring we should see product from Blue Bee Cider in Richmond’s Old Manchester district.

Today, I am touting fresh, local, preservative free apple cider.  Buy up all the good stuff while you can, because the season is short and the flavor remarkable.  What comes to mind when you think of apple cider?  I’ll wager most folks conjure up an image of hot mulled cider in winter patterned mugs.  That’s how apple cider is usually served at my home.  The Good Eats Company personal chef service offers apple cider in savory main courses and sides, like chicken with apple cider reduction and pecans, and smoked cheddar apple cider potato gratin.

Today’s recipe features spiced apple cider as sorbet, a refreshing end to an autumn dinner.  Before I cooked professionally, my dinner parties were occasionally themed with a unifying ingredient, like lemon, potato or chocolate.  For an apple dinner, I might start with smoked trout and caper spread on crisp slices of lady apple, a demitasse of apple parsnip soup with bacon lardons and chives, salad of Belgian endive and granny smith apple with pomegranate and walnut and roasted pork tenderloin with apple butter dijon glaze.

This sorbet is floral and sweet, a little tart from lemon and made smooth with unsweetened applesauce.  The definition of chai spice is dependent on regional Indian influences and popular tastes.  You can customize by using your favorite spice blend.  I wanted apple to shine through, so in my version there is no overpowering sense of chai – only hints.  To maximize their contribution, spices are left in the cider mixture to chill overnight.

When making frozen desserts in an ice cream maker, be sure the mixture is well chilled.  The addition of rum here ensures a smoother, less icy texture, but can be omitted.  For this recipe, I used about twelve ounces of apple (two large), cooked with water and mashed to the proper consistency, but commercial applesauce works just fine.  Freezing the sorbet at least six hours is best for making pretty scoops, but if you simply cannot wait, be my guest and enjoy chai spiced apple slush!

Here is a tip for making frozen desserts lovely for presentation : dip the scooper into cold water before making each round or oval shape.  If you are ambitious and have the time, follow the technique for making apple chips as shown.  You can also use paper thin fresh apple slices brushed with lemon juice to prevent browning.

I never liked the words guilt and dessert used in the same sentence.  I subscribe to the view that into each life some dessert must fall – dessert as necessity.  Think of this chai spiced apple cider sorbet as penance for your upcoming holiday overindulgence in heavier dessert fare.  Cheers!

chai spiced apple cider sorbet

by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes one generous  quart

3 1/2 cups fresh apple cider
2/3 cup cane sugar
9 green cardamom pods, crushed
3 whole cinnamon sticks
1 t whole black peppercorns
4 whole star anise
4 1/4 inch slices of unpeeled fresh ginger
1/2 t whole cloves
2 T dark rum
juice of 1/2 small lemon
1 1/2 cups well chilled unsweetened applesauce
  1. Combine cider, sugar and spices in heavy nonreactive saucepan, bring to low boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Add lemon juice and rum, allow to come to room temperture , then chill mixture at least 6 hours or overnight (best).
  3. Strain mixture, add applesauce and whisk well.
  4. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and let machine run for about 17-20 minutes (best to remove sorbet before it completely freezes).
  5. Transfer mixture to airtight container and freeze overnight for best texture.
apple chips (optional garnish)
one half crisp apple (granny smith, fuji, gala), unpeeled and sliced very thinly by hand or mandoline
1 cup cane sugar
1 cup water
  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
  2. Make simple syrup by bringing sugar and water to simmer, stirring until sugar melts; simmer 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add apple slices, gently separating with fork.
  4. Keep apple in syrup about one minute, then place slices on sheet pan lined with silicone mat.
  5. Bake for 1 1/2 hours; turn off oven and leave apple chips in oven to cool completely.
  6. Apple chips keep in airtight container for up to 3 days.

Keep apple flavored simple syrup in fridge for use in cocktails and other beverages.

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