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Mascarpone sorbet

Sat, 23 July, 2022

Delightful, refreshing, sorbet-sherbet, with a lemon tang and milky smoothness – and made without an ice cream maker.

mascarpone sorbet

This is a great discovery from the River Café via Food52 that had been sitting in my ‘to do’ list for far too long. But since I’ve made it once, I’m making it again and again.

Ice cream and the ancient

Obviously. Is there nothing that the Romans would not have gorged on in their day? Apparently, Roman emperors sent slaves to the mountains to fetch snow that was made into ancient gelato (would that be gelatum?).

Rome is about a hundred miles away from any serious mountains, so those slaves would have given Usain Bolt a run (hehe) for his money.

And the Chinese of course, who did not only pack buffalo milk into snow for desserts, but also probably invented the salt method for freezing things.

It is totally over my head, but apparently salt makes ice colder. So basically, you can make ice cream by throwing salt at custard. What about flavours other than salted caramel though???

As frozen desserts became popular, initially at royal courts, the demand for ice grew. Ice houses, specially designed to store ice lumps started springing in the cities and wealthy residences.

I can’t even start to imagine how they preserved ice imported from Norway in the 19th century. And here I am, complaining that I have to freeze my ice cream maker bucket 24 hours in advance…

lemon flavoured mascarpone sorbet

Frozen desserts

There are so many frozen, chilled or cold dessert types, that the mind boggles and the mouth salivates.

Ice cream and gelato (though I do secretly believe they are not quite two different categories as much as what the manufacturer fancies to name their products {except, obvs, in Italy whether it’s all gelato}) are dairy-based concoctions; custard or milk only based.

Frozen yoghurt belongs to or close to that category too.

Then there are sorbets or water ices – frozen fruit juice instead of dairy. And ice lollies or popsicles, which may or may not contain milk derivatives.

Semifreddo and parfait are a halfway house: not churned but softer than ice cream because they are whipped, airy confections; basically frozen mousse.

And then there’s granita, possibly the closest resembling those ancient Chinese or Roman masses of flavoured, sweetened snow. Fruit juice or flavoured water is frozen and unlike sorbet, which is smooth and scoopable, granita is a mass of ice. Like Slush Puppies.

And finally, there’s this mascarpone sorbet.

no churn mascarpone sherbet

Mascarpone sorbet or ice cream?

The contradiction is already in the name: after all, mascarpone is very much a dairy product. But the mixture is significantly watered down, so sorbet might label it better.

Still, there is a milky smoothness to the finished product making it creamier than ordinary sorbets.

Technically it’s a sherbet: another type of frozen dessert based on fruit juice with a dairy element addition. But the name is not very well known and, confusingly, can also refer to boiled sweets with fizzy centres. I believe this dessert is in a category of its own – and certainly in a league of its own!

It’s stupidly easy to make: dissolve the sugar in cold water, add the lemon juice and whisk it all into mascarpone – and I mean lightly fluffing it with a spoon rather than an appliance-assisted whisking.

Pour it into a shallow dish to ensure even freezing and cover the surface with cling film to stop it getting too hard.

making mascarpone sorbet

No churn method

You can churn it in an ice cream maker, but it’s just as easy to fluff it up every half an hour with either a hand-held mixer (though it is slightly messy), or just mash it with a fork, potato ricer and generally disturb those pesky ice crystals a few times at 30–40-minute intervals.

chilling mascarpone sorbet

Once it starts to look smoother and uniformly firmer, serve it straight away or leave it in the freezer to enjoy later or the following day.

It won’t last as long as ice cream would and not just because it’s delightful.

Ice cream tip

The best timescale for scoopability, and that refers to all ice creams and sorbets, is to transfer the tub into the fridge for half an hour.

Although obviously, some commercially produced ice cream have so many additives they are soft straight out of deep freeze.

river cafe mascarpone sorbet

More ice cream recipes

Blueberry flavoured frozen yoghurt, made without ice cream maker. And yes, you can make very good one at home, that’s how.

Homemade salted caramel ice cream without ice cream maker, ready in five minutes. No eggs, no custard ice cream base, just three ingredients.

The classic and the best vanilla ice cream: no eggs, full fat cream and milk and real vanilla pods make totally luscious vanilla ice cream.

no churn lemon mascarpone sorbet

Mascarpone sorbet

Servings: 6Time: 10 minutes plus freezing


  • 200g (1 cup plus 1 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 350ml (1 ½ cups) cold water
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 250g (1 cup plus 2 tbsp) mascarpone


1. Mix the sugar into the water and stir until dissolved. Add the lemon juice.

2. Whisk the mascarpone in a large bowl until fluffy, then gradually whisk in the water.

3. Pour the mixture into a shallow dish, cover the surface of the sorbet with cling film and freeze.

4. Every 30 minutes remove it from the freezer, peel off the film and either blitz it with a handheld mixer or mash it thoroughly with a fork to break up ice crystals. Recover with the film and return to the freezer.

5. After 3-4 times the sorbet should be much smoother, firm and easy to scoop. Serve immediately or cover and freeze for a few days. Take it out of the freezer for 10 minutes before serving or transfer to the fridge for 30 minutes.

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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