This is one of the best dishes we’ve made so far at the farm. What do we mean by “best”? Well, it certainly tastes great (like a Mai Tai) and was fun to make, but it is also “ours”. This one was our inspiration and our recipe. We searched the web for Mai Tai sorbet recipes and other than a passion fruit and pineapple thing that may taste good, but has nothing to do with a real Mai Tai, there are no other recipes. We will “claim” this one
so please excuse us if we crow a little. But if anyone has examples otherwise, that is fine. We are just happy to keep making this.
The inspiration came from a somewhat odd source. A few weeks ago Carolyn made Elegant White Cake with Chocolate Ganache, and it was very, very tasty. One of the key flavors of the cake was a little almond extract that gave the cake a marzipan-ish flavor. We wondered what other dishes might benefit from a touch of almond and we immediately though of the almond and orange flower water flavor of orgeat syrup. If you are unfamiliar with orgeat, it is the key flavoring that makes a Mai Tai a Mai Tai. We also had some Cara Cara oranges we need to use, and suddenly the idea of “Mai Tai Sorbet” came up. Carolyn thought it sounded like a decent idea, so we gave it a try.
The recipe came together quickly. A Mai Tai cocktail combines two aged rums, lime juice, Cointreau (or orange Curaçao), orgeat, simple syrup and is garnished by a lime shell and some mint. Our Mai Tai Sorbet combines lime juice, orange juice, simple syrup, a few drops of almond extract, dashes of aged rum and Cointreau (you could also use rum and/or orange extracts) and some Bittermen’s Tiki Bitters (optional, but very good). We garnish with a sprig of mint and some grated lime zest to mimic the lime shell in the cocktail.
The only trick to this recipe is to taste your sorbet base as you make it. Oranges vary in sweetness and extracts vary in strength. We make a little extra simple syrup to tune our base, and remember that the base will taste sweeter than the final sorbet- frozen foods taste less sweet. So if the base tastes a bit sweeter than you like, it is probably right. We also add the almond extract a few drops at a time and taste. Almond extract is strong stuff, so we used about 8 drops, tasting as we went. Same for the Tiki bitters, we ended up at about 6 drops, but tune to your taste.
Otherwise, this is as easy as it gets. Make your syrup then cool it, then juice your fruit and combine with the syrup. Add the rum and Cointreau, then add / tune the almond extract and bitters. Taste and add more syrup if needed. Then chill the base in the fridge for at least a few hours. Then make sorbet according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Let the sorbet harden a few hours (if you can wait) and then garnish and serve. This is good on its own, but adding a tablespoon of aged rum to the bowl takes this dessert over the top.
So how does it taste? Lime and orange up front with full, sweet almond notes and some vanilla and spice at the finish from the rum and Tiki Bitters. Like a really good Tiki Drink, but with almost no booze (You can serve the sorbet without the splash of rum and the overall amount of booze in the sorbet will be very small- we would serve a scoop to our kids without worry). But the alcohol you do have in the sorbet helps maintain a smooth consistency, so you get great flavor and texture. As it turns out, “Mai Tai” means “good” in Tahitian, this holds true for the cocktail and the sorbet.
Mai Tai Sorbet:
Notes Before You Start:
- You can use almond, orange and/or rum extract in the recipe, but they still contain booze. Sorry, hard to avoid it entirely.
What You Get: Sorbet that tastes like a Tiki Drink, with excellent texture and complex flavor.
What You Need: Some almond extract, booze and an ice cream maker.
How Long? At least 6 hours, but with 20 minutes of active time. Easy, but a weekend dish.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup fresh lime juice, 8-10 limes
- 1/2 cup orange juice, 1-2 oranges
- 1 tablespoon aged rum
- 1/2 tablespoon Cointreau or orange Curaçao
- 6-8 drops almond extract (or to taste)
- 4-6 drops Bittermen’s Tiki Bitters (optional, to taste)
- Lime zest, grated, for garnish
- Mint spring, for garnish
- 1-2 tablespoons aged rum, at service (optional)
- Combine your sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, juice your limes and oranges.
- When the simple syrup is cool, combine 1 cup of the syrup and the fruit juices in a medium bowl. Add the rum and Cointreau and then start to add the almond extract and Tiki bitters, tasting as you go. Add more simple syrup, if needed (you want the base to taste sweeter than desired). Chill the base in the fridge until very cold, at least 2 hours.
- Make the sorbet in your ice cream maker, following instructions for sorbet. Harden the finished sorbet in the freezer for at least an hour before service.
- Serve the sorbet with a sprinkle of lime zest and a mint sprig. Splash on a tablespoon, or two, of good rum, if you like.
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