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 froma spiced champagne syrup blended and frozen with an air-filled meringue.The sherbets are delightful alone, sparkling and dressy when served withchampagne. It’s best to make the sherbet a day ahead to give it ampletime to freeze. Starting with sugar and water, you cook two batches of simplesyrup. One batch of hot syrup is infused with spice, then frozen withchampagne.

The second hot batch gets whipped into beaten egg whites tomake 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 thesherbet 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 cinnamonsticks. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over high heat and boil syrup untilit reaches 210| on a thermometer, about 5 minutes.

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Remove from heat andstir in 2 cups champagne and the lemon juice. Chill until cold, 1 1/2to 2 hours. Pour syrup through a wire strainer into a 9-inch squaremetal pan. Rinse cinnamon sticks and let dry; reserve. Cover and freeze champagne mixture until it freezes softly butevenly, at least 8 hours. With a heavy spoon, break up frozen mixtureand stir until slushy. Fold icy mixture into the Italian meringue untilwell mixed.

Cover tightly and freeze. After 2 to 3 hours, fold mixtureoccasionally to keep it evenly blended as it hardens –or it willseparate into layers. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours (you canstore 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 timeinto a ball. Put 2 of these snowballs in a stemmed glass or dish (atleast 1-cup size) for each serving. If desired, carefully pouradditional champagne over snowballs to partially fill glasses; garnisheach with a cinnamon stick, if desired. Makes about 2 quarts, or 8servings. Italian meringue.

In a 1- to 2-quart pan, stir together 1 cupsugar and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-highheat; boiluntil syrup reaches 228| on a thermometer, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whip 4 egg whites on high speed untilthey will hold soft peaks. Beating constantly, slowly pour hot syrup ina thin, steady stream into egg whites (avoid beaters) until whites holdstiff, glossy peaks. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 houror as long as overnight. Champagne-Allspice Snowball Sherbet Follow the preceding directions for champagne-cinnamon snowballsherbet; instead of cinnamon, use 1 teaspoon whole allspice, coarselycrushed.

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 ornot, 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 thespice syrup. Photo: 1.

Pour water into pan with sugar and cinnamon to make aspicy syrup you mix with champagne Photo: 2. Whip a second batch of hot syrup into beaten egg whitesto 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 spicedchampagne sherbet. Bubbles foam up, so pour carefully to avoid overflow Photo: Champagne snowball sherbet, spiked with a champagne splashand a cinnamon stick, makes a dramatic dessert.

Serve with small cupsof espresso

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