The cherries have started creeping into shops and will be around now until the end of July. While I think they’re best, generally, eaten as they come (who can resist that snap of taut skin?) there are ways to enhance their flavour when using them in desserts, to maximise cherry flavour.

Roasting is one such method and I think it works particularly well for ice creams and sorbets. I was reading this recipe and loved the idea of roasting the cherries with the sugar in the oven first, which also sidesteps making a separate simple syrup (that’s just sugar dissolved in water, FYI). What you end up with, then, is a load of collapsed fruit bubbling in sweet juice, ready for blending and churning.

It’s always tempting to romanticise inspiration for recipes but I’d feel disingenuous doing that here. Basically, I was pitting the cherries* with no particular plan for them, when my gaze fell upon a bottle of pomegranate molasses sitting right there on the kitchen counter. Ta da!

I’m still giving myself a pat on the back though because this is a stunner: it has a deep cherry flavour (thanks, roasting) and a whisper of perfumed pom molasses which brings a Turkish or Iranian vibe. In fact, this would be the perfect end to a meal of kebabs, flatbreads and bowl of sloppy tomato salsa which has warmed itself slowly in the afternoon sun.

*If you don’t have a cherry pitter, I strongly recommend you buy one. They can also be used to stone olives.

Roasted Cherry and Pomegranate Molasses Sorbet Recipe

1 kg cherries, stalks removed and pitted
200g caster sugar
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Large pinch salt
200ml water

Preheat the oven to 200C

Put the cherries, sugar and salt in a roasting tray – you want them to be snug and not spread out (a couple of layers of cherries works well). Mix well to coat.

Roast for 30-45 minutes until they are bubbling and the juice around them is thick. Add the water and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.

Allow to cool to room temperature then blend (in a food processor) with the lemon juice and pomegranate molasses. Taste the mixture and add more lemon juice if you like. It’s best to make it slightly too sweet as the sugar will be dulled slightly by the freezing process.

Pass it through a sieve (no really, do) making sure you really press and scrape all the fruit skins through the mesh (and remember to scrape the bottom of the sieve, too). Put the sieved mixture into the fridge and leave overnight or for at least a few hours, as it needs to be very cold.

Churn in an ice cream maker. This would also be great with vanilla ice cream, or mixed into vanilla ice cream as a ripple. If you don’t have an ice cream maker you can do the whole, freezing, vigorously whisking, freezing, whisking and so on but I really recommend getting on if you think you might make a few ice creams/sorbets. This is the model I use – great because it doesn’t have very small parts you can easily lose. I’ve had it for around 5 years now with no probs.

A recipe Pisco Sour Sorbet, made in a Vitamix blender

This is the last of four recipes I created in partnership with Vitamix and Great British Chefs

I’ve been waiting for the right time to share this but it seems like summer is running away from us so I’m going to do it as the rain batters the windows and thunder sends the cats running under furniture, wide-eyed and bristling.

The noise of the Vitamix will also do that because damn, that thing is powerful. Yes, this is the last of my four recipes designed to show off its versatility; previously we busted through coffee beans and chipotle chillies; pecan nuts and pasta dough. Here I’ve shown how it’s possible to make a sorbet or — to be honest — more of a boozy slush.

I did try adding eggs whites to make it smoother but that’s not possible with this method so yeah, it’s a frozen cocktail. Nowt wrong with that I hear you say, and you’re quite right. It’s pretty sour, this ‘sorbet’ because I was restricted on the amount of sugar I could use in the recipe. In all honesty, I’d add another 25g to make the most of that sweet-sour balance but if you like things sour by all means leave it.

Add a dash of Angostura Bitters at the end and give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve just made a bowl of lovely alcoholic ice in a matter of minutes. Mr Frosty eat your cold plastic heart out.

Pisco Sour Sorbet Recipe (made in a Vitamix)

4 limes
100g caster sugar (I recommend adding the extra 25g, so 125g in total)
50ml Pisco
600g ice cubes
Angostura bitters, to serve

This recipe uses a Vitamix Pro750, fitted with the 2.0l low profile container.

To begin, grate the zest from one of the limes and place the zest in the Vitamix container. Use a sharp knife to skin the limes, removing as much pith as possible.

Add the flesh of the limes to the Vitamix container, followed by the sugar, Pisco and ice cubes (in that order).

Start the Vitamix on Variable 1 then slowly increase to Variable 8, using the tamper to push the ice cubes down into the motor. Once the tone of the motor changes (noticeably) stop the Vitamix.

Transfer to a container with a lid and place in the freezer for 1 hour for a firmer finish.

Scoop into glasses and add dashes of bitters to serve.

Gooseberry and Gin Sorbet

This story begins with me cruising along in the back of an Uber because I couldn’t even contemplate the idea of getting on the tube or a Roastmaster in this heat. For those of you who live outside London, we call the Routemaster buses ‘Roastmasters’ because when they re-designed them to look all curvy and swish no one thought about the experience of the people inside. What resulted is a weirdly proportioned vehicle in which none of the seats is even remotely comfortable but mainly ohmyactualgod the HEAT.

The windows don’t open and the air con doesn’t work so it’s like being a dog trapped inside a car in a desert. Here’s a headline that sums it up very nicely – “a bus designed for people who never take buses” – with a photo of Twatty Mc Twatface himself hanging out the back (that’s Boris Johnson in case you can’t be arsed to click on the link). They’re now replacing the windows with versions that actually open, although they won’t be ready until September (that’s the end of the summer). Anyway.

So I was in the Uber, and I had the windows down because the car didn’t have any air-con, and I see my mate walking down the street so I raise my shades up like a total boss and holler, “alright mate?” to which he replied, “yeah… hot. You?” to which I replied, “yeah… hot.” This is the only conversation that anyone in London is having right now. If you’re not interested in talking about the heat first and foremost then you can jog on quite frankly (or maybe walk really slowly, dragging your feet and sweating).

There’s something really oppressive about the heat here, and I say that as someone who has been to Borneo and experienced 45C heat with 80% humidity. It’s just always right ON you, that sun, and it’s close and sticky and gooey and suffocating. I was walking along the street in West London the other day and a man coming the other way, sweating profusely, just looked up at the sun and shouted, “FUCKING HELL” then kept walking. That sums it up.

So, it’s ice cream and sorbet central around here. In the past week I’ve been through ice cream Bounty Bars (surprisingly light), most of the flavours in Snowflake Gelato, several of the flavours in Gelupo, a stunning Sicilian plum granita at Bernardi’s followed by an apricot semifreddo in the same meal and now this, a pink gooseberry sorbet with gin.
I’m not sure I’ve ever cooked with pink gooseberries before but they turned up in a box of gorgeous fruit and veg I was sent from New Covent Garden market – perks of the food writing biz. I think they’re sweeter than their traditional green counterparts but that could be some mind-bending trickery to do with the colour, I dunno. Anyway, this sorbet is probably the best I’ve made. Better even than this pink grapefruit and gin sorbet I made last year. We managed to get the sugar just right, the flavour of the gooseberries is strong but you can also taste the gin, and just look at that colour!

I’ve actually just had the idea while sitting here of piling it into an insulated bottle flask thingamy and taking it onto the bus with me (probs just get another Uber).

Pink Gooseberry and Gin Sorbet

350g pink gooseberries, topped and tailed
100g caster sugar
1 egg white
100ml gin
120ml water

Put the gooseberries in a pan with the water and sugar and simmer for 5 minutes. Put the mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. If you want to remove any seeds and bits then put it through a sieve now.

Add the gin and allow the mixture to chill in the fridge (I put mine in the fridge overnight). Whisk the egg white to stiff peaks and mix it into the gooseberry mixture – it will look all weird but don’t worry about it.

Churn in an ice cream machine until frozen, then transfer to a tub and freeze for a couple of hours before serving. Yeah you could probably do it without an ice cream maker if you do the taking it out and stirring every hour thing.

Three Mango Sorbet

That’s three different types of mango, not three individual fruits. I’m into combining different varieties of the same ingredient to maximise flavour, such as two-garlic soup and this cheese and onion tart which uses 3 types of onion. While browsing around in Peckham the other day I noticed the variety of different mangoes available. I usually stick to Alphonsos when making sorbet but these other types were so cheap I couldn’t resist; basically, because they were so ripe they were on the edge of going off. Perfect for making sorbet.

I wondered if the 3 varieties would combine to make one super-intense mango flavoured sorbet. The answer to this question is a whopping great yes. My boyfriend and I ate half the tub the first time we opened it which only leaves the other half for tonight. I am uncomfortable with the thought of being without the sorbet.

There’s something about mangoes that make them better than other fruit for sorbet-ing; they give a very silky-smooth texture which is more like ice cream than sorbet. Extremely satisfying. It’s relatively healthy too, using only 100g sugar. The rest is pure fruit and lime juice.

I should say that I made this in my shiny new Cuisinart ICE30BCU ice cream maker, which Cuisinart kindly sent me to try out (I’m a total whore when it comes to accepting kitchen kit for review). My old ice cream maker was a Magimix Le Glacier 1.1, which did my head in, not least because it had a tiny yet essential part which I (and loads of other people) lost on a regular basis. The Cuisinart model is large in comparison, but with a welcome sturdyness. It also has only 4 parts, large parts, which are easy to fit together. The bottom bowl still goes in the freezer but when it’s on, the bowl turns, not the paddle. This makes it much less likely to break. It takes no time to churn. In short, I love it. And that’s not just because it was free. If you don’t believe that last bit, you can see what I said about the free breadmaker.

So there.

3 Mango Sorbet

Er, 7 mangoes, different varieties. Sorry I didn’t weigh the flesh. We’re talking Alphonso sized mangoes here.
3 limes
100g icing sugar

Scoop the flesh from the mangoes into a blender. Add the sugar and lime juice and blend. You could then pass the mixture through a sieve to remove any fibrous bits but I didn’t bother. Tip into an ice cream machine and churn until frozen.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, tip the mixture into a freezer-proof container and freeze. After a couple of hours, remove from the freezer and blend again. Freeze again. If you have time, repeat the process once more.

Watermelon and Vodka Sorbet

This recipe was inspired by my student days; vodka watermelons were very popular around that time and we spent days force funnelling the things until they were suitably saturated with the cheapest liquor we could find. A supermarket ‘basics’ brand or Glen’s being our budget poison of choice.

My tastes are a little more sophisticated nowadays (I said a little) and I’d like to tell you nothing but the finest went into this recipe but the truth is that the end of a bottle of Smirnoff was languishing so I used that. The vodka flavour wasn’t exactly pronounced though so my advice is as follows: get yourself a decent bottle then add a wee slosh on top of the sorbet in the bowl. Total refreshment, with a punch. Phwoar.

Watermelon and Vodka Sorbet

1.2 kg watermelon (that’s how much mine weighed after I’d removed skin and seeds)
3 tablespoons lime juice
200g caster sugar
3 tablespoons vodka, plus extra to serve
A few slivers of mint leaf, to serve (optional)

Cut the watermelon into wedges and remove the flesh from the skin with a knife. Chop into large slices and do your best to remove the seeds (the mixture will be passed through a sieve later so don’t worry about a few stragglers).

Put the watermelon chunks in a blender with the sugar and lime juice and blend to a liquid. Now pass it through the sieve into a bowl. Try to push as much of the melon pulp through as possible, not just the liquid. Churn the mixture in an ice cream machine until sorbet-like. Mine took about 20 minutes but my watermelon was well chilled, it could take half an hour.

To serve, let it rest out of the freezer for a good 10 to 15 minutes, otherwise it will just break up like a granita when you try and scoop it. Dribble a little vodka into the bowl and scatter on the mint, if using.