In general, I hesitate to recommend a recipe that requires a really specific piece of equipment. Mostly because I know how I react to them myself–every summer I get hugely and irrationally annoyed when the Bon Appétit grilling issue rolls around. I don’t have a grill, Adam Rapoport! Give me a break and some indoor recipes! (I have strong feelings about BonApp, clearly). But sometimes a recipe is so tasty it cries out for an exception, and this is one of those times. The specialty equipment is an ice cream maker, and the dish is an Aperol spritz float. Pinned on a whim, mostly because of the gorgeous photos, this has quickly become my new favorite high on fanciness and low on effort dessert. A little sweet, a little bitter, and very celebratory–just the way I think the end of summer should feel.
Aperol is a fairly new thing in my life. For a long time I found the taste just too bitter to be appealing, but something in my palate has changed in the last year or so, and now I love it. A few of my girlfriends have experienced the same thing–do taste buds change in the early 30s, and no one told me? I’ve yet to research it, but did buy a book I’m hoping will answer some questions…or at just give me some tasty new ideas. The classic Aperol Spritz, which always makes me feel like I should be gazing out at the ocean from some Italian villa, started me on my new bitter path. From there I’ve learned to love a simple Campari with soda and especially a Negroni (that seems to be the drink that shifted most of my friends to liking more bitter tastes). All three have been at the top of my happy hour list this summer, making this dessert irresistible.
I served this first at a dinner party where our guests had some particular food restrictions that I wanted to be sensitive to. I realized as I did my menu planning that pretty much all of my go-to desserts are really gluten-full, which wasn’t going to fly in this instance. And I’m SO glad that I had the push to try something different, and chose this. Minus a little timing to figure out (that I discuss below), this recipe is ridiculously simple. Just five ingredients, and pretty much the only steps are stirring and waiting, but the end result is so special and lush that you’ll feel like you pulled off something really tricky. Spooning out this sunset colored sorbet into vintage coupes from Hal’s collection, splashing in some sparkling wine, and serving it on a silver tray I had just brought back to Brooklyn from my dad’s house in Virginia is one of my all time best feeling hostess moments. Though I also served this to two girlfriends much more casually one night as we curled up on my couch to watch the Bachelorette season finale, and that felt pretty special, too.
The main challenge with this recipe, as I said, is the timing. If you have an ice cream machine like mine, you’ll need to remember to freeze the base of the machine ahead of time. My suggestion would be to throw the machine base into the freezer the night before you want to enjoy yourself some floats, and go ahead and make the mixture then as well, since it will need some time to chill. Process it up the next day, leaving an hour or two for the sorbet to hang out in the freezer. I’ve also found that the sorbet keeps really well, so you could make it more ahead of time, too. And if you don’t have an ice cream maker, and this post has been as annoying to you as the annual grilling issue is to me, let me recommend this. Similar concept and flavor, no specialty equipment needed. Or, you could just go classic, mix yourself up a spritz, and imagine your villa.
aperol spritz float
from Honestly YUM
ingredients (makes ~2 pints):
1/2 cup Aperol
3 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
sparkling wine to serve
If your ice cream machine requires you to freeze the machine’s base, do so ahead of time.
Add the water and the sugar to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir to combine, and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the simple syrup from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Add the Aperol and the orange zest and place in the refrigerator until well-chilled (at least 2 hours).
Churn the sorbet according to the ice cream machine’s instructions.
Transfer the sorbet into a storage container and freeze until firm. Once frozen, add one scoop of sorbet into a chilled coupe class. Top with chilled Prosecco and serve.