Basil is most often thought of as a herb used in savoury dishes such as mozzarella and tomato salad, to make a pesto for pasta or in a Thai noodle soup. However, it is also a wonderful herb to use in desserts where it can make summer fruit flavours really pop.
In hotter months, I love to use Thai Basil (Horapha Nanum) in this refreshing Raspberry, Thai Basil and Lime Sorbet. Any basil will enhance the natural taste of raspberries, offsetting their natural perfumed scent. Thai Basil, with its stronger aniseed almost liquorice taste, adds another deeper layer of flavour. Finished with lime for refreshing acidity, it really hits the summer sweet treat spot.
- 550 g raspberries
- 120 g caster sugar
- 50 ml water
- Juice 1 lime
- 20 – 25 Thai Basil Leaves plus extra small sprigs to garnish
- 1 egg white
- 1 tsp icing sugar
- Basil biscuits to serve (optional)
- First make a sugar syrup. Put the caster sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat gently, swirling occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved (the sugar will disappear). Boil for 1 minute and leave it to cool. You will only need half the final amount of syrup but unless you have a very tiny pan, this is the smallest amount it is practical to make.
- While the sugar syrup is cooling, rinse the raspberries and then put them in a food processor. Add half the lime juice and two thirds of the basil to start with. Whizz up in the food processor until the raspberries are pureed. Taste and add more basil leaves and lime juice to taste.
- When the sugar syrup is completely cooled, add half of it to the raspberry mixture and stir until combined. At this point, taste again. If you feel you would like it a bit sweeter, sieve in some icing sugar, half a teaspoon at a time and stir again.
- Sieve the sorbet into a clean plastic container with a lid and freeze for 4 hours or, ideally, overnight. You can leave the sorbet frozen at this stage for up to 3 months.
- At least 4 hours before you are ready to use the sorbet, take it out of the freezer and leave it to soften slightly so that you can just cut it with a cutlery knife.
- Cut the sorbet block into large chunks and put it back into the food processor. Whizz it again, until it has broken down and then add a lightly beaten egg white with the motor still running. Keep it processing until it becomes a smooth texture but make sure it stays frozen.
- The egg white coats the ice crystals and gives it a smoother finish but you can leave it out if you are serving it to anyone who can’t eat raw egg white, such as pregnant women.
- Return the sorbet to the plastic tub and put it back into the freezer for at least another 4 hours until set. Once the egg white has been added, you will need to use the sorbet within 24 hours.
- To serve the sorbet, take it out of the freezer and leave it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before scooping it into bowls.
- Serve with shortbread biscuits, if you like, for an extra bit of delicious indulgence.