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Yotam Ottolenghi: Max and Flynn’s Lemon Sorbet

Yotam Ottolenghi

by Yotam Ottolenghi, Ixta Belfrage from Ottolenghi FLAVOUR

Ottolenghi's refreshing lemon and hibiscus sorbet is the perfect dinner party dessert for summer. Served in hollowed out lemons, it looks so impressive and has a beautiful tart, floral flavour.

From the book

Ixta Belfrage, Yotam Ottolenghi


Some might think this hibiscus and lemon sorbet served in a lemon is a little garish – the sorbet is such a bright shade of pink from the hibiscus – but we love both the colour and the old-school Italian presentation. Yotam’s sons Max and Flynn proclaimed it the best dessert they’d ever had, ‘better than custard’. It was probably the colour that so enchanted them, but it is undeniably delicious, albeit very sour, in a wholly enjoyable, face-inverting kind of way. Feel free to set the sorbet in a regular container if you don’t want to carve out the lemons. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, churn by pouring the unfrozen sorbet into a plastic container and freezing it over a few hours, breaking down the ice crystals with a fork every now and then. The filled lemons will keep in a sealed container in the freezer for up to a month.

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8 large, unwaxed lemons
200g caster sugar
3 hibiscus tea bags (or 10g dried hibiscus flowers)
10g mint, stalks and leaves

Essential kit

You will need: an ice cream machine and a piping or ziploc bag.


Cut the top third off each lemon. Juice both parts to give you 350g of juice and pulp combined. Use a spoon to hollow out the lemons, discarding the remaining flesh and pith and being careful not to puncture the skins. Don’t worry if you can’t get it all out. Shave a little off the bottom half of each lemon so they can sit upright (again, taking care not to puncture the skin) and arrange them in a tray, open side up, so they are snug and balanced. Freeze the bottoms and their lids on separate trays, while you make the sorbet.

Put the juice and pulp, discarding the pips, into a medium saucepan with the sugar, hibiscus (tea bags or dried flowers) and 350ml of water. Place on a medium-high heat and simmer for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has melted and the liquid is hot. Remove from the heat, add the mint and leave to steep for 15 minutes, until the liquid is bright pink.

Strain the liquid through a sieve into a wide container and discard the aromatics. Refrigerate until completely chilled. Pour the chilled liquid into an ice cream machine and churn for 25–30 minutes, or until frozen and smooth. Transfer the sorbet into a piping bag or a Ziploc bag and seal it closed. Freeze for 3–4 hours until firm, crushing the bag with your hands a couple of times to break the ice crystals.

Remove the tray of hollowed-out lemon bottoms from the freezer. Cut the tip of the piping bag or Ziploc bag to create a 2–3cm-wide opening. Pipe the sorbet into the lemons to come up about 5cm above the rim (you may need to hold the piping bag with a tea towel, as it gets very cold). Top each with a lemon lid, pushing them down so they are stable, and return to the freezer for at least an hour before serving.

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From the book: Ottolenghi FLAVOUR

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