I live around the corner from a wonderful Chinese tea shop, Seven Cups. Yesterday, I was looking for a gift to give a fellow tea-lover, when I came across these dried hibiscus flowers. Pictured is Chinese hibiscus, but you can also find hibiscus flowers in Latin specialty food stores (usually in a bag labeled "Flor de Jamaica").
Hibiscus tea has tart fruity and floral flavor, and contains Vitamin C. An added benefit is that hibiscus tea has been linked in studies to reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure, so drink up!
There's only one problem: my air-conditioner is broken. It's a summer's midday in Tucson. I don't want to drink hot tea. Solution? Lemon Hibiscus Sorbet.
This sorbet is delightfully light and refreshing, and has more depth of flavor than your average glass of iced tea. I cut back the amount of sugar in the original recipe because I really wanted the lemon and the hibiscus to be the stars. I found myself going back for thirds, so I think this recipe is a keeper. Lemon Hibiscus Sorbet is my perfect temporary relief from the sizzling summer.
Lemon Hibiscus Sorbet
adapted from Gourmet
yields 1 pint of sorbet
2 cups water
1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of one lemon
Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add hibiscus flowers, remove from heat, and let steep for 15 minutes. (You could stop here and drink tea, but the sorbet is so good! I promise it is worth the wait...).
Pour the hibiscus tea through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl and discard the hibiscus flowers (I find the flowers are good for another round, so NOW you can make some tea just to drink :) ). Return tea to saucepan and bring to a boil with sugar and a pinch of salt, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Transfer mixture to a metal bowl and place in freezer for 20 minutes.
Remove metal bowl from freezer, add lemon juice, and freeze in ice cream maker, adding the lemon zest at the last minute. Transfer sorbet to an airtight container and place in freezer to harden, for at least 3 hours.