While I am enjoying some summer playtime with my family, several of my favorite food bloggers will be sharing their talents with you. First up is Amanda of The Cilantropist, who brings us amazing recipes such as Chili Lime Marinated Shrimp, Rose Sangria and this refreshing Orange Cantaloupe Sorbet. As you will see, her photography is stunning and her writing informative. Oh yeah, and did I mention that she’s smart and driven? Yes, she’s preparing to defend her Ph.D. dissertation. So, I thank her for taking the time to give us this lovely Orange Cantaloupe Sorbet.
First off, I want to say a big thank you to Dara for inviting me share this post with you today. I really love the variety of beautiful recipes she shares here on Cookin Canuck, and I always feel like I am sitting down to dinner with her when I read her posts. For this guest post, I wanted to share a special recipe that showcases my love for seasonal fruits, and that would help you find a way to cool down with family and friends this summer.
Every summer I wait eagerly for melons to be in season. Somehow the pale green honeydew, the bright orange cantaloupes, and blazing red and green watermelons just signal that summer is in full swing. Together with strawberries and blueberries, melons are my favorite things to savor in the summer months. But, unlike the berries that brazenly display their colors for all to see, it is amazing to me to think that a thick, tasteless rind can enclose such sweet fruit.
Now while in most places you can get melons just about any time of the year, in the summer, the melons are incredibly soft, sweet, and juicy. But still, the trick is always in picking the best one. To find a ripe cantaloupe, I can offer a few suggestions. First – look at it. I find the riper melons have a more pale orange or yellow tint to the rind on one side. Second – touch it. You don’t want a melon that feels hard as a rock, and the most ripe ones have just the slightest give to them. (But beware those that are very soft. They are over-ripe.) And third – Weigh it. This is by far the best way I have found to pick a good melon.
People always say, “Choose a melon that feels heavy for its size.” Well what exactly does that mean? I always see people standing at the supermarket picking up the melons and bouncing them around in their hands (don’t lie, you know you do this), and I can definitely say this used to be my approach. But now simply take the guess-work out of the equation by making good use of the scale. I glance over the melons by eye, then touch a few of them and pick two similarly-sized melons that look good based on visual and tactile cues (color and softness). Then, I simply take them over to the scale and weigh them – you would be shocked, you can have two melons that are the exact same size and one might weigh almost a half-pound less than the other! Every time, the heavier one is ripe and sweet when I take it home and slice it open.
In the summer, I love taking sliced cataloupes on a picnic, eating chilled cubed melon right out of the fridge, or using it for savory dishes. Last year I saw several recipes for granitas and sorbets using melons, and I was dying to try out a recipe. For a sorbet, I thought the flavor of cantaloupe would be lovely together with fresh-squeezed orange juice and some extra sugar for sweetness. I also used a trick from ice cream-master David Lebovitz – he suggests adding a small amount of wine or other alcohol to your sorbets to increase the smoothness and scoopability. I had a lot of success doing this when I added limoncello to my lemon thyme sorbet, and I repeated that method here by adding orange-flavored Cointreau to this sorbet. To me, this is the perfect sweet treat to beat the summer heat.
Get one ripe cantaloupe that weighs approximately 2 pounds. To choose the best cantaloupe, follow my suggestions above.
Next, you want to get all the flesh out of the cantaloupe, and none of the seeds. You can do this in one of two ways. First, if you want to keep the cantaloupe rind to serve the sorbet in a cantaloupe ‘bowl,’ use a sharp-edged spoon to scoop out the seeds (discard these) and then scoop out the rest of the flesh, all the way to the rind. Second, if you don’t care about using the rind as a bowl, just go ahead and cut the melon in half, then cut thick slices (cut each half vertically) and use a paring knife to slice along the rind. Put all the scooped or sliced cantaloupe flesh into a bowl and set aside.
The sorbet also has fresh orange juice, which I think compliments the cantaloupe perfectly. If you have a citrus juicer, it is really easy to get fresh orange juice, and as a bonus, you are left with a perfectly cleaned out orange rind half that you can also use for serving the sorbet! For this recipe, I used the juice of 1 medium-sized valencia orange, which was about 1/4 cup. Other than pink-tinted cara cara oranges, valencia oranges are my favorite.
After you juice the orange, combine the cantaloupe flesh, with the orange juice, the sugar, and 1 tablespoon of Cointreau in a blender. In my opinion, using a blender is really critical here, because I tried making this in a food processor, and I thought the resulting texture of the sorbet was much ‘grainier.’ I think the food processor can’t really puree the fruit to a liquid the way a blender can, so that worked much better. Once you have all the ingredients in the blender, turn it on high and blend until there are no more solids.
To make the sorbet, transfer the mixture to the bowl of an ice cream maker, process according to the instructions, and then freeze for an additional 2 hours. Or, transfer the liquid to a container and freeze, stirring occasionally to make the mixture as smooth as possible.
For serving, you have a couple of options. First, you can simply serve the sorbet traditionally in small bowls. I decided it would be great to garnish it with more sliced oranges, because honestly, the valencias I picked from the farmers market were amazing. If you are lucky enough to find super-sweet oranges too, then they will not only look beautiful but be a perfect compliment to the taste of the sorbet.
A second option for serving this Orange Cantaloupe Sorbet is to reserve the orange rinds you had from juicing the oranges. From this recipe, that means only two orange ‘bowls,’ but you could always juice more! I used this trick for serving sorbet in fruit bowls before, and my friends thought it was absolutely adorable. If you like, you can scoop the sorbet into the fruit cups and keep them in the freezer for a few hours ahead of time, making this perfect for a summer dinner party.
And lastly, you can serve this sorbet in a whole hollowed out cantaloupe ‘bowl’ – but unfortunately I forgot to capture that in photos! Instead I will leave you with one last tip: when I can, I adore getting fresh flowers from the farmers markets too – they always seem to jazz up my kitchen, and are beautiful accents for desserts. Plus, flowers just make me happy.
Hope you enjoy this recipe and the rest of your summer!
- 1 2-pound very ripe cantaloupe
- Juice of 1 medium valencia orange (or ¼ cup of fresh orange juice)
- ⅓-1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon Cointreau, triple sec, or other orange-flavored liqueur
- Extra orange slices for serving, or orange rind or cantaloupe rind ‘bowls’*
- Prepare the cantaloupe by removing the seeds and either slicing or scooping all the flesh from the rind.
- In a blender, combine all the cantalopue flesh with the orange juice the sugar and the Cointreau. Here, decide whether you want to add more (1/2 cup) or less (1/3 cup) sugar based on your taste preferences and the sweetness of your melon and orange juice.
- Blend the fruits and juice until as smooth as possible, it should be a smooth liquid.
- Transfer the liquid to the bowl of an ice cream maker, and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze for an additional 2 hours before serving. Or, if you don’t have an ice cream maker, transfer the liquid to an air-tight container and freeze, stirring often to make the sorbet smooth.
- For serving, scoop the orange cantaloupe sorbet into small bowls and garnish with extra orange slices. Or, serve the sorbet in orange rind bowls or a cantaloupe bowl.
- To make the fruit bowls, see the photos above.