A “Cool” Trick

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Summer is just around the corner, the kids will be out of school and for all you Moms that means you’ll have your hands full keeping your kids busy, well fed and entertained.

I’ve got a “cool” culinary trick that can do all three!

One of my Pastry Chef’s at the Culinary Institute taught me this “chef secret” and it has come in handy over and over again. It’s kind of a pseudo recipe and science experiment all rolled into one.

The “trick” is how you can make great sorbet / granité or popsicles without a recipe.

You do need one important “food” tool though and ironically, it isn’t even an ingredient in the recipe!

The tool is…..an egg.

An uncooked, in the shell egg, (Extra large is best.)

Start by taking any flavored liquid at room temperature. This could be orange juice, Hawaiian Punch, Grape Juice or even chocolate syrup in water. The first part is coming up with a good solid, strong flavor that you like. Don’t worry about the sweetness…that will come next.

One of the most important keys of a sorbet, granité (which is a coarser sorbet ice, almost like a combination snow and shaved ice), and a Popsicle is that it ISN’T an ice cube. If it’s a Popsicle, it has softness to the bite and if it’s s sorbet, it churns or rakes into a soft, scoop-able confection.

What does that is the percentage of sugar in the liquid. Too much and it doesn’t freeze firmly, too little and it turns into a rock like ice cube.

Just like Goldie Locks, it can’t be too firm or soft, but JUST right!

What’s just right??

Between 31 & 33% Brix….(warning….science ahead)

You may have heard of the word Brix, it’s used a lot in industries that have to measure the amount of sugar in liquids. Wine makers use a device called a Brix Hydrometer to measure the amount of sugar in grape juice to know JUST when to harvest them. Other industries use this same device for similar reasons.

What a Brix refractometer does is refract light coming in one side of the lens, onto a scale of numbers which indicates the density of the water’s sugar concentration. Technically, one degree Brix is equal to 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution….but you don’t really need to know that.

Anyway, as it turns out, 31 to 33 % Brix, is just perfect for our “sweet little project”.

Of course, you and I don’t have one of these devices in our kitchen….and I’d be amazed if you did.

So, we’ll use the “cool trick” to do the job instead.

Take your (room temperature) flavored liquid and pour it into a tall jar or vessel so that:

a) It is at least 4” deep

b) You have at least another few inches to add more sugar if necessary.

c) You can fit a whisk into the container to stir the sugar into the liquid.

Next, take a raw egg, in the shell, and carefully place it into the liquid. More than likely, it will immediately drop to or casually float to the bottom of the container.

Remove the egg and begin to add granulated sugar while whisking it in. As you add more sugar, occasionally re-test the sweetness (density) of the liquid with the egg (being careful not to crack the shell).

Eventually, as you add sugar, the egg will begin to rise an eventually float wide end up.

Continue to add and adjust the sugar content of the liquid until the area of the egg exposed above the surface of the liquid is the size of a U.S. Quarter.

Ta Da!!!!!  You now have approximately 31 to 33 % Brix.

If you want to make Popsicles, just pour the mixture into small Dixie cups and place in the freezer. When the mixture begins to form a frozen crust on the top, insert a Popsicle stick and allow to fully freeze. If you want to make sorbet, just churn in an ice cream machine as if it were ice cream.

Making granité is probably the easiest. Just pour the mixture in a shallow casserole dish and place in the freezer. Every 10 to 15 minutes or so, open the freezer and rake the mixture with a dinner fork. Continue to do so until the mixture begins to be slushy then eventually like snow. Once finished, you can transfer the granité into a pre-frozen lidded freezer container and scoop as you would ice cream for a refreshing treat and one your kids will enjoy even more if they learned this “cool trick” and brag about it to their friends.