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TIP OF THE DAY: Sorbet Toppings

Typically, if you get any garnish with a scoop of sorbet, it’s a mint leaf, berry, lemon peel curl or other variation of the fruit used to make the sorbet.

But how about preserves? We were inspired by this photo from Vivoli, a gelateria in Florence, Italy, of pineapple sorbet with pineapple preserves. Yum!

So for Mother’s Day, we’re loading a large lazy susan with different sorbet toppings (see the list below) so guests can choose their own. We’re adding enough toppings to create a super sorbet sundae.

Compared to ice cream, sorbet it is naturally fat free, lactose free and has fewer calories. Because it’s generally made of fruit, it has fruit’s vitamins, minerals and antioxidants—although it does add sugar to them.

Another benefit: Even after the biggest, heaviest meal, there’s room for a few spoons of sweet sorbet. And although it‘s not science, we find that it helps to settle a stuffed tummy.


Lemon sorbet crowned with a dab of pineapple preserves (photo ©

And if you’re concerned about the environment, sorbet is a better choice: No animal methane is required for its manufacture, no water tables are polluted.

You can buy the sorbet (we’re purchasing lemon, mango and raspberry for Mother’s Day). But it’s easy to make. The recipe couldn’t be simpler: one part sugar, two parts water, four parts puréed fruit. You can add a tablespoon of lemon juice, lime juice or liqueur for extra flavor, or replace some of the water with juice or tea.

After you get the hang of it, add herbs or spices. Lemon-basil and mango-chile are terrific; cilantro, mint and rosemary pair beautifully with fruits.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can place the mix in a flat pan in the freezer and scrap the forming crystals with a fork: That’s granita! (Check out the different types of frozen desserts in our Ice Cream Glossary.)


A fully loaded watermelon sorbet sundae,
garnished with cubed watermelon, roasted
pistachios, marshmallow sauce and fresh
apple. Here’s the recipe from the National
Watermelon Promotion Board. We’d throw in
some pomegranate arils, too.

1. MAKE simple syrup by combining the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. If you want to infuse herbs or spices, add them at this stage (lightly crush the leaves in your hands to release the oils). Allow the mixture to cool; remove any herbs/spices† and set the pan aside.

2. PREPARE the fruit. Small berries don’t need to be cut, but large strawberries and other fruits should be diced into small cubes, place it in a blender or food processor along with the simple syrup and lemon or lime juice to taste (about 1/8 of a cup for every cup of fruit), and purée until smooth.

3. PROCESS in your ice cream maker or turn into a granita.


  • Candied lemon or orange peel or candied mint leaf (recipe)
  • Chocolate shavings
  • Edible flowers
  • Fresh herbs: a chiffonade of basil or mint, or a rosemary plume
  • Fruit or fruit salad in a tiny dice, pomegranate arils or a vertical fruit “plume” like the apple slice in the photo, a melon or pineapple spear
  • Fun candy (gummies, jelly beans)
  • Macadamia or pistachio nuts, candied or roasted

  • Preserves, chutney or homemade stewed fruit
  • Wine, port, spirit or liqueur, chilled (add to the dish before the sorbet)—flavored vodka is great here
    Or go back to basics with plain berries and/or fresh mint leaves.


    *Instead of fruit, flavors such as chocolate, coffee and hibiscus are popular.

    *You can leave inclusions such as red chili pepper flakes or pink peppercorns.

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