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So you all used your ice cream makers for the holidays, right? And you made some ice creams that have family members begging for recipes, or air-mailed pints, yes?
And now the new year's behind you and in a misguided sense of virtue you're going to put your machine away? Uh uh.
Because here's the thing: just because you're trying to eat better doesn't mean you need to swear off frozen desserts. Instead, think sorbet, not ice cream. At about 25 to 30 percent sugar, sorbets aren't the most virtuous thing you could eat, but they're completely fat free, and they make it that much easier to increase your intake of the seasonal fruit which is at its peak right now.
Case in point: persimmons, a gorgeous fruit that receives a fraction of the attention it deserves. Their flavor can best be described as honey in fruit form, and their flesh, when ripe, is intensely aromatic and sweet. Best of all, they're cheap and plentiful this time of year, and they can be turned into an especially creamy sorbet that's close in texture to many ice creams.
Adding sugar to persimmons can overpower their subtle flavor with pure sweetness, so I use some lemon juice for acidity as well as a secret weapon—black tea. Brew it stronger than you'd care to drink: you want all the maltiness the tea can muster as well as the sharp astringency that mimics the taste of persimmon skins.
There are two major varieties of persimmons. Fuyus, seen above, are more common, and are my choice for out of hand eating. But for purées, acorn-shaped hachiya persimmons are the way to go. When fully ripe—and I mean blackened skin, jelly-soft flesh, looks-like-it's-about-to-rot-but-is-really-perfect-ripe—they're great for processing into sorbets. Both varieties will work in this recipe, but if you can find hachiyas and can spare a few days to let them ripen, use them. But don't cheat: if eaten before they turn fully ripe, they're as bitter and astringent as all those family holiday fights you just got past.
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