One of the things I find most exciting about being a chef is when I am inspired to create something out of the blue. Sometimes it is a random thought or something I read that sparks the inspiration, but often it is a result of a need to create something to accommodate a dietary restriction. Some people find this incredibly stressful. I find it a unique challenge and a distinct opportunity to express myself creatively while creating a special experience for someone that has been marginalized to some extent because of what they can and cannot eat. If I can give someone pleasure through food when they felt like that opportunity was no longer available to them, I have done something truly remarkable and something that I feel very proud of.
This week, despite the fact that I’m still in recovery mode after having had surgery just a couple of weeks ago, I was inspired by just such a challenge. I needed a dessert for someone who was lactose intolerant so my usual go to that I am quite well known for, creme brulees of various flavors, was out. Chocolate desserts are also out as most involve some kind of dairy. I was leaning toward sorbet but I didn’t want to do someting average, namely a mainstream flavor. Then I thought, what if I was in Morocco. What flavors would I lean toward for a special sorbet?? Then I looked at what I had in the house and decided I’d try an orange sorbet.
While I don’t have an exact recipe because I was just tossing and adding stuff until it tasted right, the basic recipe included 2 Cara Cara oranges, zest from those two oranges, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of honey, 2 tbl vanilla extract, 2 tbl orange blossom water, 2 tsps ground cinnamon, 2 tsps ground ginger, a huge pinch of saffron, roughly a cup or so, perhaps more, of Simply Orange juice and finally just a cup or so of plain soy milk (although I suspect almond or rice milk would work just as well). A final last minute addition was about 2 cups of toasted almond slivers that I folded after I had frozen the sorbet to about a soft serve with an ice cream machine. So I guess you’d call it a Moroccan Inspired Orange, Saffron and Almond Sorbet. It yielded about 12 or so large servings.
I heated the water and sugar in a microwave on high for 3 mins. Then stir to dissolve any remaining sugar. Then I heated an additional 3 minutes to create a simple syrup. This was then added to the 2 peeled oranges, the zest from those oranges, saffron, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and the orange blossom water in a Vitamix or food processor and pureed until smooth. I then strained the mixture to get any bits of pith out of the mixture. To that I added the honey, orange juice and soy milk and whisked until well combined. This was frozen in a home model ice cream machine until soft serve, folded with the almonds and then I put it in the freezer overnight to finish freezing. And voila. Here is a photo: