Sunday, August 5, 2012

Buttermilk Basil Sorbet and Cornmeal Shortbread

Some days are quiet...

...And still.

On days like these my head gets clear and I can hear what my heart is saying. It says "maple-cinnamon" and "pumpkin-streusel". But fall baking will have to wait.  The weather forecast calls for something much more refreshing.

The flavors for these two sweets was inspired by my grandmother's favorite snack.  She'd crumble a piece of leftover cornbread in a bowl-full of buttermilk and then eat it with a spoon, like cereal. I think this "snack" makes a perfectly acceptable dinner (though I prefer whole milk to buttermilk).

The buttermilk-basil sorbet is a snap to make and it's oh-so refreshing! The surprise ingredient is a bit of lime juice that perfectly heightens the basil flavor.

The cornmeal shortbread is just sweet enough.  And if you're feeling daring, grind mixed peppercorns on top of unbaked dough slices.  You might be surprised at how lovely it is.

One last thing!  I've contributed an extra cute recipe for "Monster Cupcakes" to this awesome children's book that is currently being funded through KickStarter.  It is illustrated by Heather Ozee and written by author Christina Cody with the sole purpose of inspiring children to read. If this resonates with you consider helping the cause!

Buttermilk-Basil Sorbet
Yield: twelve 1/2 cup servings                                                                    [click for printable version]
Adapted from:

Light and refreshing - just as sorbet should be! If you're not crazy about basil, omit it from the simple syrup recipe or swap it for cilantro.

1 1/3 cups sugar, granulated, divided 
2/3 cup water 
1 cup fresh basil leaves cut into ribbons 
4 cups reduced fat buttermilk 
3 tablespoons lime juice 
2 teaspoons lime zest, grated finely with a microplane or other fine grater 

  1. Combine 2/3 cup sugar with 2/3 cup of water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add basil; let steep for 5-7 minutes or until syrup is strongly fragrant with basil. Set aside to cool. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine remaining 2/3 cup sugar with buttermilk, lime juice and zest; mix until sugar dissolves. Add cooled basil simple syrup to buttermilk mixture and mix thoroughly. 
  3. Place mixture into an ice cream maker and employ according to the manufacturer's directions. Transfer sorbet to a container and freeze for 12 to 24 hours before serving. 

Note: If you don't have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into a metal tray and place it in the freezer. When the mixture starts to freeze, rake a fork through it several times to break up the ice crystals. Repeat this process about 4 or 5 times over the course of three hours. You can also pour the mixture into ice pop molds.

(I used the ice cream attachment for my KitchenAid mixer)

Cornmeal Shortbread
Yield: 24-30 cookies
Adapted from Gale Gand's recipe for Food Network                                    [click for printable version]

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cornmeal, plus more for coating
3/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Cream the butter in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the powdered sugar and mix until well combined.  Add the vanilla bean paste or extract and beat again.  Add the flour and salt and mix until blended.  Mixture will be crumbly at first, so keep beating until a soft, non-sticky dough forms.
  2. Roll into a log and then roll in cornmeal to coat.  Brush off excess cornmeal. Cover in plastic wrap and chill at least one hour or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  4. Slice shortbread dough thinly and bake on a Silpat or parchment paper for 12 to 15 minutes.   When done the shortbread will still be blonde.   Remove from oven and let cool on pan for 5 minutes;  they will crisp as they cool.


Averie @ Averie Cooks said...

that shortbread sounds so interesting and the basil-buttermilk, mmmm...sounds so fancy! And gorgeous pictures, as usual!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A fantastic combination! That sorbet must be so fresh tasting. Divine!



DessertForTwo said...

Gorgeous! Cornbread + buttermilk is a great snack!
I just made a log of cornmeal butter cookies myself :)

LauraLou said...

My Mom and Grandma back in VA eat buttermilk and cornbread the same way. Brings back memories! I can't wait to try this recipe.

Karrie said...

Sounds so refreshing - yum!

Jen @ Jens Favorite Cookies said...

I actually love herbs in a sweet sorbet, and this one sounds particularly lovely. I can't wait to try it! (Wish I had that Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment right now!)

Sue said...

I MUST make the shortbread cookies for my dad. Shortbread cookies are his favorite cookies! He was just here visiting last week, but I'm sure these will ship well:) Thanks, Heather!

Anonymous said...

They both sound lovely, but it isn't sorbet if it contains dairy. Sherbet, perhaps?

SprinkleBakes said...

Maybe so.

Alex said...

I must try to do the shortbread! :D

Cecilia said...

Your pug. So adorable.

Christina Marie said...

I love the lime zest added to this! Love the presentation. :)


Peque a la Moda said...

Hi, Heather!
I love Sprikle Bakes.
In my last post I have spoken about you. I hope you enjoy it.

Kisses from Spain


Becca said...

that's so interesting about the cornbread and buttermilk combination. I haven't heard of anyone actually drinking buttermilk. There was a book I read, Lonesome Dove, where one of the characters loved to drink buttermilk straight, but it just seemed so weird, I didn't know anyone really did that. And here I am being proved wrong, haha.

I love cornbread, and the cornbread shortbread cookies look really nice :) said...

Beautiful! And delicious! And the darling pug oh so precious. :)

vanillasugarblog said...

basil buttermilk! oh that just sounds heavenly on the tastebuds

wallflourgirl said...

What an intriguing combo--thanks for sharing! Also, Monster Reader sounds like an amazing project. I study children's literature and do a lot of work in education, but it always wows me to see what people can come up with to help the cause.

Deb said...

A subtle and elegant presentation, evocative of a cooling breeze on a shade covered veranda. A splendid post!

Heather said...

Hooray you did it! Don't you love the lime/basil combo? ;-) This is a winner!

Heather said...

Looks so refreshing!

Lora said...

That sorbet looks perfect. I always have too much leftover buttermilk and not enough ideas on how to use it up.

italiangirlcooks said...

This is an intriguing recipe!

Eileen said...

This sounds like a perfect combination! Herby and creamy, hot and cold, and of course full of delicious corn flavor. Hooray!

Noelle Marie said...

I love herbs and desserts, this looks like the perfect combo! Beautiful post. Will definiately return to your blog.

vanessalillian [Ness@theteensytinyinsignificantdetails] said...

The trouble with the majority of food bloggers being based in America is that I'm seasonally out of whack. But I will certainly re-visit this when things heat up again, because I want to investigate these interesting flavours!

andreja said...

It looks great

Jessie said...

Sorbet sounds great!

Leslie said...

i can only imagine how delightfully refreshing this is!!!

Gerry @Foodness Gracious said...

Basil is just an awesome herb in savory or sweet dishes, in fact I've been nurturing a plant from TJ's for a while now and my daughter keeps eating the leaves from it...
Great post.

SweetSugarBelle said...

My dad lives corn bread and milk too...but it has to be whole milk :-). I'm ready for fall too I've had enough of this heat, but in the meantime, this looks amazing!

Megan's Cookin' said...

This sounds perfect together. I've made a conrmeal shortbread before and loved the texture and taste! Sounds great with this sorbet.

Vera Zecevic - Cupcakes Garden said...

Great two recipes! I like your "quiet" puppy very much!

Jon Holland said...

I want to make this sorbet for a basil party I'm going to. I have a question: did you strain out the basil ribbons before adding the syrup to the buttermilk mixture? Or did you blend it all together? I don't detect any basil in the pictures of your sorbet.

Lili said...

Loved seeing the pics of your little darlin' and that gorgeous frosty vintage pan holding the sorbet! This combo looks so refreshing. xo ~Lili

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