Friday, March 21, 2008

Granité au Calvados (Calvados sorbet)

Granité (grah-nee-tay) and sorbet (sor-bay) are frozen dessert cousins that, unlike ice cream, do not contain any dairy products (such as milk, cream, or eggs). Both can be used as a palate cleanser in between courses or as light desserts.

I remember the first time I was served a frozen treat in-between courses at a restaurant. I thought it was so chic that later in the week I went out and bought some Häagen-Dazs® lemon sorbet for the next time we had dinner guests. Now, I can make it myself and feel even more culinary!

Granité is the plural form of granita in Italian. It’s a coarse-textured, grainy, crystalline frozen mixture that contains sugar, water, and a flavored liquid. It is traditionally made in a pan in the freezer and stirred with a fork about every 30 minutes.

Sorbet is French for the Italian sorbetto or sorbetti (plural). It’s a smooth, creamy, sweet, fruity frozen mixture that contains sugar, water, and fruit (either juice or puréed). It is made with a sorbet or ice cream maker.

Other Frozen Desserts
There are so many different frozen desserts: granité, sorbet, Italian Ice, sherbet, gelato, glace (pronounced glahs) among others. At first, I found the list of different frozen desserts overwhelming. Inspired by Jessica Hagy at her blog called Indexed, I decided to come up with my own index card graph, albeit a little more boring than hers! Here’s my compilation of several frozen desserts and where they fit on a creamy/icy scale and a fine/coarse scale.

A few more facts:

Sherbet (NOT sherbert): Lighter than ice cream but richer than sorbet and contains dairy products.

Ice cream: Creamy flavor. Up to 50% air. Higher butterfat content (11-15%)

Gelato: Italian for ice cream. Denser flavor because it has less air (10-20%) in it than ice cream. Lower butterfat content (4-14%) than ice cream. Stored at a higher temperature (-13°C).

Glace: French for frozen custard. Rich flavor.

Italian Ice: A smooth, sweet water ice.

There is a ton of information about all these different types on the internet. Click here for one of the best pages I found that discusses all of them. Also, Shirley O. Corriher in Cookwise explains the different frozen desserts and their science very succinctly. Definitely worth a read.


As I learned when making the Charlotte aux pommes, Calvados is an apple brandy from the heart of Normandy in France. Although I didn’t splurge on a bottle for that recipe, I broke down and bought one for these frozen treats! I’m going to have to make a few more Apple Charlottes and apple sorbets to make up for it.

Recipe for Apple Granité
This is a traditional granité that’s icy and crunchy.

from Cook’s Illustrated

Makes 4 small servings

1 cup apple juice (replace some with water, if desired)
⅛ cup sugar
½ tablespoon lemon juice and/or ½ tablespoon apple brandy

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl to dissolve the sugar. Pour into a metal pan and put in the freezer. Stir with a fork every 30 minutes until it reaches a coarse, grainy texture.

Recipe for Calvados Sorbet
This sorbet is smooth and creamy.

Adapted from Gourmet

Makes about 3 cups

⅔ cup water
½ cup sugar
1½ cups apple juice, chilled
⅓ cup Calvados, chilled

Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and let it boil for 2 minutes to dissolve the sugar. Cool. Add the apple juice and the Calvados and stir.

Transfer to a sorbet or ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Then, transfer the mixture to a container and freeze until firm, about 1 hour.

The addition of alcohol to the recipe lowers the freezing point, so this type takes longer to freeze and tends to separate after storage. Just stir it before serving.

Recipe for Green Apple Sorbet
This recipe is from the website for the Calvados brandy that I purchased. The puréed apple with the peels looks delicious in the sorbet.

from Calvados Boulard

Makes 4 servings

4 Granny Smith apples (500 g)
1 lemon, juiced
1¼ cups water
1¼ cups sugar
Calvados, for drizzling

Core and dice the apples; leave the skin on. Toss with the lemon juice and freeze overnight.

Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and let it boil for 2 minutes to dissolve the sugar. Pour the hot syrup over the frozen apples and blend in a blender.

Transfer to a sorbet or ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Then, transfer the mixture to a container and freeze until firm, about 1 hour.

When serving, drizzle some Calvados on top.

Tasting Notes
My freezer is now full of so many apple-flavored frozen treats, I’m not sure what I’m going to do since they don’t keep for very long (a week, if that). I liked each one for different reasons.

• Apple Granité had a very grainy, icy texture that was very similar to a popsicle.
• Calvados Sorbet from Gourmet was smooth with a kick from the brandy.
• Green Apple Sorbet from Calvados Boulard was sophisticated, sweet, and beautiful.

I also tried making a granité that the kids would like using their favorite juice and leaving out the brandy! I thought they’d like the popsicle angle. Again, they were amazed that I could make something that they could enjoy (since I still haven’t been able to convince them that chicken is delicious!).

I also thought a mix of granité and sorbet in one bowl would be interesting to try and provide some contrasting tastes in each bite: smooth and crunchy. This turned out to be my favorite way to finish up all the frozen treats I’d assembled.

. . . . . . . . . .

Running total: $237.04 + $1.21 (Apple Granité) + $5.05 (Calvados Sorbet) + $2.95 (Green Apple Sorbet) = $246.25

Butter used so far: 4 pounds, 27.5 tablespoons


Anonymous said...

mmm, i love apply grantia and sorbet, and your presentation is so fresh and fun. my favorite, though, has to be the classic espresso granita topped with panna (whipped cream).

Anonymous said...

Oh, how delicious! I love the color and the way yo present the whole thing! Great job :D

Helene said...

Calvados sorbet is so refreshing as "trou normand" during a long meal.
Very nice rendition!

RecipeGirl said...

I love the idea of a Calvados sorbet!

Anonymous said...

they look so refreshing & delicious!! your photos are so lovely...thank you for visiting my site and leaving such a nice comment! :)