Have you ever had dragon fruit? It really is a funny looking thing–the size of a small mango, bright red and green tips on the outside, and either a bright beet-red or perfectly white flesh inside, speckled with hundreds of black seeds. If anything, its quite a pretty fruit, and not one I come across very often. So to indulge in my ongoing addiction for buying exotic produce, today, we have a Dragon Fruit & Coconut Sherbet.
I had no experience with dragon fruit until now, so I was kind of at a loss for what to do with it. I wasn’t having a whole lot of luck finding ideas either. Most of the written material out there is either how people loved dragon fruit or were very disappointed in its somewhat neutral flavor (and for what its worth, I enjoyed it, but it didn’t blow me away–think like a more neutral tasting kiwi). I did however, really take to this beautifully presented sorbet and decided I would try to do something along the same vein.
The only thing is, I have a so-so relationship with sorbets, and its not for any great reason really. Honestly, its more of a type-A kind of thing: I hate adding water to whatever I’m cooking. I mean where’s the flavor in water, right? Its like volunteering to water something down (does that even count as a pun?). I avoid it as best I can, and that’s a tricky maneuver to pull off in a sorbet…and so I learned the difference between a sorbet and a sherbet: milk! Problem solved.
I didn’t want to make just another ice cream, and I also happened to have some coconut milk that I wanted to use up. For some reason, after a tasting scoop of dragon fruit, coconut milk just seemed like a natural pairing, so I chose to enrich the sherbet with that instead of dairy milk/cream, also whipping it (just like whipped cream) to try to give the final product some fluffiness (which didn’t go quite as far as I would have liked. Ah well, lesson learned).
I really enjoyed the result–the sherbet still has the attractive, creamy appearance of dragon fruit (serving it in the original fruit shell certainly helps ) and the flavor is strangely a coconutty, tropical kind of bubble gum taste. Very tasty and a change from the norm. Not sure I could say its worth the premium you’ll pay to buy dragon fruit, but these are the pains I endure for you, loyal reader: I eat dessert. Its ok, you’ll thank me later. This is also my entry for A Southern Grace’s Beat the Heat, an event that made me realize I seem to use heat for just about everything I make, lol.
- 2 dragon fruit
- 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 cup coconut milk
- juice of 1/2 lime
First thing’s first: get familiar with your dragon fruit (they ought to feel firm but they should give a little when you gently squeeze them, sort of like a mango or an avocado). Cleanly cut these in half and get a good look at it. Then, since we’re going to use the shells for serving later, take care when scooping out the flesh not to puncture/damage the shell. Simply with a spoon, you should be able to scrape everything out into your food processor.
Next, shape the shells to look normal if you squeezed them too hard and set them aside in the freezer (they’ll firm up and keep their shape better).
Along with the fruit flesh, squeeze in the lime juice, all but a tablespoon of sugar, and 1/2 of the coconut milk into the food processor. Give this a whirl to puree it nicely (don’t worry about the seeds–they’re fine to eat and I think they make it look a little more interesting).
Following the directions for your ice cream maker, transfer this mixture into it and churn for about 25-30 minutes (rather than the usual 20), after which, you should set it aside in a bowl in the freezer.
Finally, in the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining coconut cream and tablespoon of sugar for a few minutes. I was hoping to see firm peaks just like I would when making normal whipped cream, but it just didn’t ever achieve the same body. While this wasn’t essential, I was hoping to use this so I could introduce air and fluffiness into the sherbet so as to more mimic the texture of ice cream (rather than the icy texture you usually get via a sorbet). Next time, I might try to use heavy cream for this step instead.
Whatever you use, get the churned dragon fruit mixture out of the freezer and fold your whipped (coconut) cream into it, work it only as much as is necessary. Set this back in the freezer for an hour or two to let it firm up.
Finally, the plating. Now that the sherbet is a bit more formed (but not totally frozen), you can put it into the shells. I thought I could use a pastry bag and pipe it into the shells with some fancy schmancy pattern. It didn’t really have a consistency conducive to this, so either I don’t know what I’m doing (very possible), or you should save yourself the trouble and just use a spoon.
However you get it into the shells, set it back in the freezer for a few hours to totally firm up. You’ll probably need to give it 5 minutes on the counter-top so it can thaw a little bit before you can dig in, but after that, enjoy!