I wish I could say that I thought of it first. The brunch sundae —at once refreshing and satisfying. Cool with just the right amount of sweet. As beautiful as it is surprising. All the flavors that a sophisticated adult with a hyper inner-child could want.
Grapefruit. Honey. Lavender. Coconut. Vanilla. Ginger. And: POP ROCKS.
My first meeting with this grapefruit sundae was accidental. We were having brunch at Café No Sé for my birthday, and I asked for gluten-free toast. They did not have gluten-free toast so I had no toast, but that's not really important.
What IS important: when it came time for the waitress to bring out my free b-day dessert (BECAUSE THEY STILL DO THAT HERE), she brought out macarons for the table and this sundae for me. Since I "don't eat gluten."
To be honest, I was only there for the macarons—which generally are gluten-free—but one bite of this dream and I was sold. I knew at once that I had to recreate it (because apparently that's what I do now).
Fast forward a few days and a friend gives me lavender-infused honey from her aunt's lavender farm. I figured if lavender went with anything, it went with grapefruit.
So I got to testing. I picked up things like citric acid and cream of tartar for less than 50 cents in bulk foods but for the most part, I had the other ingredients in my kitchen.
This was the first time I ever made meringues and I'm addicted, so it's a good thing there are leftovers. They taste like crispy marshmallows and the texture really makes this desert. Honestly, they weren't my favorite part of the original sundae because they were a bit flavorless, but these homemade ones are absolutely worth it.
And now. LET'S TALK ABOUT POP ROCKS. Did you know that you can make them? So they aren't QUITE as poppy as the ones you'd get at 7-11, but they're damn good. And actually extremely easy and fun. Chefs around the world, like, really good chefs, are using pop rocks in their kitchen. Try this and you'll totally get it.
If you can't tell, I had a lot of fun with these photos. The backdrop is a sheet of Rifle Paper that I got from Paper Source - more on that idea here if you're interested. I found the dishes for 50 cents each at Goodwill and used some sweet little paper straws and gift tags that Matty bought me for Christmas. He helped me out with photography and editing since I had my hands full styling the shoot. Plus, photographing frozen dessert has a time limit, people.
If you're hosting a Valentine's (Galentine's!) brunch, this is the desert you're looking for. XOXO, my sweets!
Yield 4-6 Servings
HONEYED GRAPEFRUIT SORBET with LAVENDER
1 1/4 cups water
2/3 cup honey (optional: add 2 drops lavender essential oil)
1 tbsp grapefruit zest
1 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
1 grapefruit, reserved for serving
1 large egg white at room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar (about 1/16 tsp)
1/4 cup sugar (I used raw sugar)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
GINGER POP ROCKS
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp plus 1/4 tsp citric acid
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp water
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1 can full-fat coconut cream, refrigerated overnight
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 Quart Plastic Bags (I grabbed a few empty ones from the bulk section)
Ice Cream Maker
- SORBET: In a saucepan over medium heat, bring water and sugar to a boil and stir until combined. Remove from heat and add zest then grapefruit juice. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
- MERINGUES: Preheat oven to 200°F. Separate egg making sure not to get any yolk at all in the bowl. Start over if you do! Add cream of tartar and beat with electric mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until stiff and glossy. Add vanilla and beat 30 seconds more. Place plastic bag over a bowl or cup and fill with meringue batter. Squeeze out air as you push batter to one corner, then snip the corner about 1/4 inch. Pipe cookies in either long rows of lines or mini circles (I did both, breaking up the rows of cookies once baked). Bake until dry and crisp, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- POP ROCKS: In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, honey, and water. Cook the mixture until it reaches 300 degrees when measured with a candy thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer, use a cold glass of water to test. Drop a tiny bit of candy into the water. When it quickly hardens into a firm ball, it's ready. Remove from heat, and add the baking soda, 1 tablespoon of the citric acid, and ginger, and stir to combine. Spread the mixture out onto a piece of parchment paper, sprinkle with the 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid, and allow to cool completely, about 30 minutes.
COCONUT CREAM: Open chilled can of full-fat coconut milk and skim the hardened, creamy top into a bowl. Discard the water at the bottom of the can. Add honey and vanilla and beat until creamy. Chill until ready to serve.
POP ROCKS: Break the candy into pieces and add to a plastic bag. Using a rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy mug, crush the candy into tiny little pieces so that it resembles Pop Rocks.
- SORBET: Once chilled, add to ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions. Then, remove from ice cream maker (use a wooden spoon to transfer it to a chilled bowl) and allow to freeze 1-2 hours.
- LET'S PUT IT TOGETHER! Slice open grapefruit and place a few pieces at the bottom of a small dish. Add two small scoops of sorbet and two small scoops of coconut cream over the fruit. Place one larger scoop of sorbet on the top and sprinkle with pop rocks and crushed meringues. Decorate to preference, I added two more pieces of grapefruit and criss-crossed meringues in a similar fashion to Café No Sé.