The explosion of vegetables and fruits in summer never ceases to amaze me. I feel like a little kid unwrapping a present each and every time I walk into my garden or into our farm markets, stocked full of fresh brightly colored produce. I am so fortunate to live in a place where the biggest decision on a weekend is which farm-to-table dinner to attend. Tough life out here in the country. I cherish these meals for their simplicity…..small gatherings with tables beautifully yet simply draped with the season’s freshest produce interspersed with softly glowing candles and simple freshly picked flowers.
A recent casual al fresco event at our local None Such Farms farm market inspired me to recreate their dessert for an upcoming dinner party – their version was a beautifully vibrant beet, poppy seed, and orange ice cream served atop a silky densely flavored olive oil cake. It had me at hello.
To lighten things up just a tad, I made mine into a beet sorbetto stirred with a hint of mascarpone to add a bit of creaminess. For the cake, my usual olive oil cake recipe felt a bit too dense for the sorbetto so I found a version online that folded in the whipped egg whites for a lighter, airier version. Recipe below!
Don’t be scared away with serving beets for dessert. The sweetness of the beets lends such a fantastic undertone to the vibrant intense sorbetto and when paired with the simple olive oil cake, you forget that this is actually a vegetable that is singing its slow summer perfection in your mouth. Thank you Mother Nature!
And as always, buon appetito!
Beet and Mascarpone Sorbetto
- About 4 large beets, scrubbed and unpeeled
- 1/3 cup mascarpone
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- Juice from ½ lemon
- Ice cream maker
Place the beets in a medium sauce pan and add water to cover the beets by about an inch. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, until the beets are soft and tender about 30 minutes. Test the doneness by inserting a fork into the beets – if no resistance, the beets are ready to go. (You may need to add additional water to keep the beets submerged.) When cooked, remove the beets from the water and allow to cool slightly.
Put the beets in the blender and puree. Add the mascarpone. You want about 2 cups of beet puree. If the puree is too thick or looks to be less than 2 cups, add some water and puree again. Place the mixture in a bowl and then in the refrigerator to chill completely.
While those beets are chilling, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil while whisking to dissolve the sugar. Pour the mixture into another bowl and place in the refrigerator to also chill completely.
When both mixtures are chilled, combine and whisk in the lemon juice. Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once done, transfer to an airtight container and freeze until the sorbet is firm, at least a few hours.
Lemon Olive Oil Cake
Adapted from Lemon Olive OIl Cake from Epicurious
- ¾ cup olive oil (I used extra-virgin), plus some additional for greasing pan
- 1 cup all-purpose or cake flour
- 1 large lemon
- 5 large eggs, separated, reserve 1 egg white for another use
- ¾ cup sugar, divided, plus 1 ½ tablespoons for sprinkling on top
- 1 9-inch springform pan
Position rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the pan with a bit of oil. Cut out a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Lay in the pan and oil.
Place the flour in a medium bowl. Grate the lemon to measure about 1 ½ teaspoons zest and whisk together with the flour. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze into a separate bowl. Reserve 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice.
In a large bowl, beat together the 5 egg yolks and ½ cup sugar with an electric mixer until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed and add in the olive oil and reserved lemon juice. Beat only until just combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture until just combined.
In a separate cold bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites (from the 4 eggs) with ½ teaspoon salt on medium speed until foamy. Add in ¼ cup sugar, a little at a time, beating and continuing to beat until the egg whites just hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes.
Gently fold about 1/3 of the whites into the yolk mixture to lighten. Fold in the remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
Transfer the batter to the springform pan and gently rap against your work surface to remove any trapped air bubbles. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons sugar.
Bake until puffed and golden and a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean – about 40-45 mintues.
Cool the cake in the pan.