This time the British in my veins has surfaced. My anglophile (and dark, of course) side recently drove me to buy a family recipe collection by Norwegian-descent British writer Roald Dahl. For those who do not know him (?), Roald Dahl is the author of the books in which the movies Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach are based, as well as of a lot of other famous works. In short, reading the book I came across an amazing recipe for rose petal sorbet and oh, serendipity! Being that the roses in my garden are in full bloom, I set to work.
The book is beautifully edited, with great photos of Mr. Dahl and his family in the typical English cottage where he lived most of his life. I’ve always envied those English writers in their English cottages, leading an idyllic English life… dedicated to writing English books in a cute little house, surrounded by lush vegetation, eating tomato soup and kidney pie, and soaking in sherry… Also the photos never show the eternal English rain… In short, these are the consequences of reading too many Agatha Christie novels when I was young and too many Enid Blyton books as a child. And they say that reading is good.
Rose petal sorbet
Yields 6 servings
- 4 large handfuls of rose petals (at least half of them should come from pink or red roses, otherwise the sorbet won’t have the right color)
- 570ml water
- 230g sugar
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tsp glycerin, food grade
- Collect a few roses that have not been treated with insecticide or similar crap, like mine (honestly, we don’t pay any attention to them until they bloom). Carefully examine the petals to get rid of any bugs.
- Put the water in a saucepan. Add the sugar and take everything to a boil. Boil for five minutes, just enough to concentrate the syrup a little bit.
- Turn off the heat and add the rose petals. Mash slightly with a wooden spoon (actually, cooking the syrup and the addition of the petals could also be done in a Thermomix). The petals thoroughly lose their color. In contrast, the liquid becomes a light tea color. Cover the saucepan and let stand overnight in a cool place (the fridge if it is warm).
- The next day, pass the mixture through a cheese cloth placed on a sieve (I caught an earwig… earwig flavored sorbet…). Discard the petals.
- The funny thing about this recipe is that an unattractive colored liquid yields a rather gaudy pink sorbet. And the miracle is worked at this time: by adding the lemon zest and juice to the rose syrup… Voilá! The color changes. Trust me. I’m supposed to be a chemist and I have no idea why this happens… what a waste of money spent on college. I guess it’s caused by the acid in the lemon. I’ve found on the Internet that it happens too with violet syrup… Intriguing.
- Add the glycerin. I suppose that it’s added to help prevent the formation of large ice crystals, but there’s no explanation for it in the book. Maybe it’s a family secret…
- Mix well and put in a container that can go into the freezer if you have no icecream maker. Mix well every hour to prevent it from becoming a single block of ice, until very cold. I filled with the syrup some of those plastic bags to make ice cubes. Then I mashed the cubes in the Thermomix. Once the sorbet is ready, serve in the finest glasses you have, because the color is wonderful…
If roses have a a flavor, this is it, no doubt. Its aroma is instilled in the sorbet. The flavor is intriguing, you wouldn’t guess the origin if you weren’t told. But once you’re told about the key ingredient, then you say: right, it tastes of roses! (And earwigs… but that’s my secret ingredient, haha.)