Champagne snowballs: these frosty sherbets are light, sparkling, dramatic Essay

Champagne snowballs



These frosty sherbets are light, sparkling, dramatic



White as snow, these frosty sherbets take their pale coolness from
a spiced champagne syrup blended and frozen with an air-filled meringue.
The sherbets are delightful alone, sparkling and dressy when served with
champagne.



It’s best to make the sherbet a day ahead to give it ample
time to freeze.



Starting with sugar and water, you cook two batches of simple
syrup. One batch of hot syrup is infused with spice, then frozen with
champagne. The second hot batch gets whipped into beaten egg whites to
make a smooth-textured meringue.



When this cools, the coarse-textured champagne ice is folded in.



Because the meringue has a tendency to float, you need to stir the
sherbet several times as it freezes.



Champagne-Cinnamon Snowball Sherbet



1/2 cup sugar



1 cup water



2 cinnamon sticks, each 3 inches long



At least 2 cups champagne or other dry to sweet white sparking wine



2 tablespoons lemon juice



Italian meringue (directions follow)



6 additional 3-inch cinnamon sticks (optional)



In a 1- to 2-quart pan, stir together sugar, water, and 2 cinnamon
sticks. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over high heat and boil syrup until
it reaches 210| on a thermometer, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and
stir in 2 cups champagne and the lemon juice. Chill until cold, 1 1/2
to 2 hours. Pour syrup through a wire strainer into a 9-inch square
metal pan. Rinse cinnamon sticks and let dry; reserve.


Cover and freeze champagne mixture until it freezes softly but
evenly, at least 8 hours. With a heavy spoon, break up frozen mixture
and stir until slushy. Fold icy mixture into the Italian meringue until
well mixed. Cover tightly and freeze. After 2 to 3 hours, fold mixture
occasionally to keep it evenly blended as it hardens –or it will
separate into layers. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours (you can
store this sherbet in the freezer as long as 3 months).



Use an ice cream scoop to shape about 1/2 cup of sherbet at a time
into a ball. Put 2 of these snowballs in a stemmed glass or dish (at
least 1-cup size) for each serving. If desired, carefully pour
additional champagne over snowballs to partially fill glasses; garnish
each with a cinnamon stick, if desired. Makes about 2 quarts, or 8
servings.



Italian meringue. In a 1- to 2-quart pan, stir together 1 cup
sugar and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high
heat; boiluntil syrup reaches 228| on a thermometer, about 5 minutes.



Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whip 4 egg whites on high speed until
they will hold soft peaks. Beating constantly, slowly pour hot syrup in
a thin, steady stream into egg whites (avoid beaters) until whites hold
stiff, glossy peaks. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour
or as long as overnight.



Champagne-Allspice Snowball Sherbet



Follow the preceding directions for champagne-cinnamon snowball
sherbet; instead of cinnamon, use 1 teaspoon whole allspice, coarsely
crushed.



Champagne-Cardamom Snowball Sherbet



Follow the directions for champagnecinnamon snowball sherbet;
instead of cinnamon, use 2 teaspoons whole cardamom (pods removed),
coarsely crushed.



Champagne-Clove Snowball Sherbet



Follow the directions for champagne-cinnamon snowball sherbet;
instead of cinnamon, use 2 teaspoons whole cloves.



Champagne-Ginger Snowball Sherbet



Follow the directions for champagnecinnamon snowball sherbet;
instead of cinnamon, use 2 tablespoons slivered fresh ginger (peel or
not, as you like).



Champagne-Nutmeg Snowball Sherbet



Follow the directions for champagnecinnamon snowball sherbet;
instead of cinnamon, use 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg; do not strain the
spice syrup.



Photo: 1. Pour water into pan with sugar and cinnamon to make a
spicy syrup you mix with champagne



Photo: 2. Whip a second batch of hot syrup into beaten egg whites
to make Italian meringue



Photo: 3. Fold icy champagne slush into bowl of chilled meringue;
freeze mixture



Photo: 4. Pour champagne over big snowball-shaped scoops of spiced
champagne sherbet. Bubbles foam up, so pour carefully to avoid overflow



Photo: Champagne snowball sherbet, spiked with a champagne splash
and a cinnamon stick, makes a dramatic dessert. Serve with small cups
of espresso