This is less a recipe than it is an idea or perhaps a flourish. We served this at the last Sunday Table lunch and honestly I can think of no better way to complete a long summer meal than this, being refreshing and fabulous and involving a generous dash of icy cold prosecco. Oh, well there’s half the recipe already!
You’ve probably noticed in your cookbook travels that there are many tips and tricks for attaining the perfect sorbet texture, including adding a bit of alcohol (which softens the sorbet), or using invert sugar or glucose. These are effective and useful to know, and definitely worth experimenting with, but the beauty of this recipe/flourish is its simplicity and purity. Nothing but perfect peaches and sugar with bare hands and bubbly. And that, to me, captures the essence of everything a summer recipe should be.
Ingredients8 perfectly ripe white peaches
500 grams caster sugar
500 mls water
A bottle of dry prosecco (preferably Dal Zotto)
The secret to this beautiful sorbet is choosing peaches that are at their peak of ripeness, just soft to the touch, and dripping with juice. They must be white fleshed - yellow fleshed peaches make a very fine sorbet but it will never approach the magic of one made from the white fleshed fruit.
You will need about eight peaches. Cut away any bruises (if the fruit is perfectly ripe there are likely to be some) and then remove the fruit from the stone (I do this by making cuts in the fruit as if I were cutting an orange into wedges, then using my knife to lever each wedge away fom the stone; however any technique will do) but make sure you do this over a bowl to catch the juice that you will inevitably lose. Do not remove the skin. I know this is unorthodox but the delicate pink colour of this sorbet comes primarily from the skin and, while I have no scientific proof whatsoever for this, I believe it contributes to the flavour as well.
Place your peach segments into the bowl in which you caught the juice, and using your hands, squash each segment so that the fruit becomes a mushy pulp and the juices are fully released. Although sorbets are often blended to create a uniform texture, one of the delights of this recipe are the still visible chunks of colour and texture from the skin and flesh.
Set aside the peach pulp for a moment and, over a very low flame, heat 500 grams of caster sugar and 500 mls of water just until the point where the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from the heat.
This is where you need to improvise, because you will need more or less of the sugar solution depending on the pulpiness, juiciness and sweetness of your fruit. Start by removing half a cup or so of your fruit pulp and setting it aside. Now add 250 mls of the sugar solution to your peach pulp. What you are aiming for is a sorbet with a lovely creamy texture that is not too icy and not too soft. Too much sugar will make your sorbet too hard, so to gauge how much you need float a clean egg in your sugar/water/fruit mix. If the balance of sugar is just right, a circle of egg shell about 20mm across should be visible. If it sinks or there is very little visible, you need to add more of your sugar solution. If the egg is sticking out more than this, you need to add more of your reserved fruit pulp. Stir in between each addition and test again until you have the sugar level just right. Place your sorbet mix in the fridge until it is very cold and then churn in an ice cream machine. To serve, place a scoop of sorbet in a bowl or glass, and pour over half a glass or so of dry prosecco (Dal Zotto would be a wonderful choice). Stand back and admire - you have created perfection!