Eat To Live

Make a melon sorbet even careful eaters can enjoy

PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

This fruity, icy treat will finish a meal nicely, satisfying a sweet tooth with just a hint of'sin'

I never used to eat desserts. The creaminess cloyed and, generally, I prefer savoury to sugary tastes.

It also interfered with the careful eating habits that I had been following for some years now, which kept my weight steady even while eating everything.

Sugar is a no-no, hence no dessert. Carbohydrates, if any, are kept at half a bowl of rice or a slice of bread, with veggies in between mouthfuls cleansing the palate.

And I stop eating when I feel full - no need to clean out the plate.

These days, however, I enjoy a bit of sweetness to end the meal, albeit only a mouthful. And small bites are the way to go, especially if you still eat dessert. Unlike wine lovers who seem able to shun sugar, I, over the years, seem to have developed a sweet tooth. I like eating cake (not sponge, though), chocolate (dark) and, yes, ice cream.

  • Melon sorbet

  • INGREDIENTS

    • 2 bags of honeydew melon (equivalent to 1 medium-sized melon), cut into cubes

    • Juice from 1 lemon

    • 2/3 cups brown sugar

    • 1 tbs Cointreau liqueur (optional)

    • 1 tbs corn syrup or honey

  • METHOD

    • Peel and cut the melon into cubes. Squeeze the lemon juice over.

    • In a blender, puree the melon cubes with the sugar and add the Cointreau and corn syrup or honey.

    • Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for two hours.

    • Before freezing, blend the mixture for 30 seconds with an immersion blender, place in a chilled container and put it in the freezer.

    • Allow the sorbet to soften in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

    SERVES FOUR TO SIX

I have written before about making ice cream with the Yonanas machine using ripe bananas as a base .

This is a machine, made by the Dole Food Company, that churns out creamy swirls of fruit which you then mix with other blended fruits, or even chocolate and mint.

Aside from such fruit ice creams, I like sorbets as I do not like my ices too creamy.

I tend to go for Italian ice cream, which uses milk rather than cream, sorbets with no cream at all, or granitas, which are more icy.

A sherbet is a creamier sorbet, that is, it employs a little milk in the mix to add mellowness to the fruit.

You can see where I am going.

A little sweetness, but one that is less cloying and fatty.

And while there is sugar in the recipe, surely it would be fine even for a careful eater like me?

While a piece of chocolate used to satisfy this craving, sadly, I am tired of the taste and long for the intense fruitiness of a sorbet. This melon sorbet fills that longing wonderfully.

I hit upon it when someone brought a large fruit platter to my home one day and I was left with a huge amount of cut melon later that night. I decided to make a sorbet with it. But, first, I spiked it with Cointreau. But you can use any light-coloured liqueur.

Then, I blended it with sugar, and there I had it, something sweet, cold and flavourful to satisfy the craving, albeit controlled.

This recipe does not need an ice cream maker, though you would need either a blender or a food processor to blend the fruit smooth. You also need to ask yourself if you want a smooth or grainy texture.

If smooth, you need to add a little corn syrup or honey to the mix. It adds viscosity to the sorbet.

If not, make a granita which, by definition, has ice crystals.

Sugar is also needed, not just to sweeten, but also to help with the sorbet's structure.

Sugar lowers the freezing point, thereby reducing the ice crystals.

Be warned, however, that too much and your sorbet will not freeze. Here, I added sugar, and not syrup, as the melon has enough juice already.

As for the alcohol, even a tablespoon will improve the texture.

Alcohol also reduces a sorbet's freezing point, thus making the sorbet softer and easier to scoop.

So, you end up with a soft, creamy sorbet, full of fruity flavour, with sugar being the only "sin".

Not bad at all.

•Sylvia Tan is a freelance writer and cookbook author. Her previous Eat To Live recipes can be found in two cookbooks, Eat To Live and Taste.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2016, with the headline 'A sorbet even careful eaters can enjoy'. Print Edition | Subscribe