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Basil-Flavoured Lemon Sorbet (Sorbetto di Limone al Basilico)

Anna del Conte's Basil-Flavoured Lemon Sorbet is a wonderfully light and refreshing dessert recipe. Perfect for dinner party entertaining, it can be made ahead.

From the book

Anna Del Conte


This lemon sorbet, as well as being delicious, looks very pretty, the pale lemon green being speckled with the dark green of the basil. While the flavour of the lemon is immediately identifiable, the basil seems to blend in so well as to be indistinct. Yet it is the basil that transforms an everyday lemon sorbet into a conversation stopper. It is essential to use leaves from a young basil plant. Old basil plants have a very strong minty flavour, which is wrong for this dish.

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8 organic lemons
2 organic oranges
600 ml (1 pint) water
350 g (12 oz) caster sugar
2 dozen large basil leaves, chopped


Wash the fruit and remove the rind, without chipping into the white pith, and put it into a saucepan. Add the water and the sugar. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up to moderate and boil rapidly for 3–4 minutes. Draw off the heat and allow the syrup to cool completely, and then strain it and discard the rind.

Meanwhile squeeze the lemons and the oranges. You should get at least 500 ml (16 fl oz). Strain the juice and add to the cold syrup, together with the basil leaves. If you have an ice-cream machine, pour the mixture into it and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you do not have an ice-cream machine, pour the mixture into a metal bowl and freeze for about 2 hours, until the mixture is half frozen. Remove from the freezer, put the bowl in the sink (because the mixture might splatter everywhere) and beat with a hand-held electric beater or a whisk. This will break down the crystals. You can use a food processor. Freeze again and then whisk once more. Return the bowl to the freezer until the sorbet is ready.

Sorbets, especially those based on fruit, lose their flavour if made longer than 24 hours in advance.


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