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Ice cream, sorbets and the versatility of frozen deserts

Frozen desserts are perennial favourites on most menus, but late summer is a prime time to indulge in this area of your menu. Thanks to the abundance of fresh produce passing through kitchens this time of year, there’s never been a more optimum time to get tinkering with your home churned ice creams, sorbets, granitas and frozen yogurts.
Ice cream gives the savvy chef a number of playful dishes to turn to. Complex home-churned options can incorporate rich dairy such as clotted cream and fresh Jersey milk infused with a number of subtle flavours and has the added advantage that during a busy service, even the first day apprentice can get it plated and on the pass for you. In some restaurants we’re starting to see modern takes on the knickerbocker glory, made using high quality ingredients, but served in the traditional towering glassware. It’s a retro classic that’s definitely worthy of your specials board.
As the free-from diet choices continue to grow, sorbets have become a profitable realm in the frozen dessert world. In their simplest form, they contain only fruit juice, a little water and sugar – which can be substituted with agave syrup, maple syrup and other natural sources of sugar. Delivering an intensity of flavour is most certainly key in creating successful sorbets. No second rate show, sorbets have won out over traditional ice creams in awards like Great Taste where a raspberry sorbet took supreme champion in recent years. For the more discerning customer, we’ve seen some pretty exciting versions hitting menus recently made with red berries, freshly squeezed orange juice and cardamom. The introduction of herbs and spices with fruit is an interesting one to explore. Basil works exceptionally well with strawberries, while mint can add a refreshing quality to fruit juices that are high in natural sweetness.
Frozen yogurt has enjoyed a particularly high profile in the US where international chains operate self-serve shops popular with teens. However, providing you get the base froyo tasting clean and fresh (as opposed to our more European versions that tend to be a little more cultured) the beauty of serving frozen yogurt is in the toppings that can include everything from chocolate chips and M&M’s to cornflakes.
Speaking of cornflakes, they provide a popular addition to the Philippine dessert halo-halo. This bizarre concoction has become a cult hit and is made from crushed ice, evaporated milk and pretty much anything else you can throw at it. You’ll usually find a heady mix of sliced fruit, sweetened beans, tapioca, ice cream and sometimes, the aforementioned cornflakes. By all accounts it can be a divisive dessert, but one that can prove successful in certain locations.
Whether you’re looking to create some refined, home churned desserts for your menu, or some out-and-out crowd pleasers, frozen desserts lend them particularly well in this season of abundant produce.