My tastes were very different when I was a kid. Those were the days before I worshipped at the shrine of umami and the earthy flavours of things like mushrooms were more likely to make mealtimes a misery than anything else. Olives were awful. Capers were crap. I actually liked things that had a described colour instead of a definable flavour. Everything was better with added sugar. And some of my social standing came from how well I could handle acidic foods. It was all about the cola bottle…
I hadn’t thought about these gummy wonders for years. Not only are pick n’ mixes a thing of the past, but age has made less keen on sugar and totally unable to handle sour treats, breaking me out in a sweat if I go near a bag of Haribo. Then last year, Mister North and I made mozzarella from scratch and needed citric acid for it. Re-enacting our childhood somewhat, Mister North dared me to taste a bit of this innocuous looking white powder and my mouth exploded in a combination of nostalgia and tanginess as my mouth contorted, albeit pleasurably, round it. Once I’d recovered, it got me thinking how the sweet and slightly savoury vegetable taste of cola really works with citric acid, turning the burn to fun and how I wanted to revisit it as an adult.
While playing with the ice cream maker I bought last year, and realising it’s the big girl version of a Mr Frosty machine, the whole thing came together and I knew it would have to be a cola bottle sorbet. I also knew that it would suit the vibe of the exercise to make it up as I went along to actually create it. Resisting the temptation to return the concoctions of youth that involved adding a little bit of absolutely everything in the cupboard, I kept it super simple.
Fizzy Cola Bottle Sorbet:
- 1.25 litre bottle of full fat Coke (Diet will not cut it here. Use cherry if you prefer.)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (sorry, but I could not be bothered weighing things for this.)
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 1 tsp citric acid
- A good slug of dark rum (optional)
Pour all the Coke into a pan and add the granulated sugar, heat gently and then reduce the volume of Coke by about a quarter by boiling it away. This intensifies the Coke flavour as things taste less strong when frozen. The added sugar makes it more of a syrup so that it will freeze properly and not resemble a sad Slush Puppie in texture. Add the rum, allow to chill well and then churn in your machine for 30 minutes or freeze directly, breaking the crystals up with a fork every hour for about 4 hours.
Put the caster sugar in the hand blender or give it a good bash with a pestle and mortar so that it is slightly finer than caster sugar but not as powdery fine as icing sugar and then depending how game you are, add in up a tsp of citric acid and mix well.
If your sorbet has frozen evenly (and mine didn’t as it needed a bit more sugar which is now adjusted) you’ll get tightly coiled scoops of sorbet. Put the sugar and citric acid mix on a plate and roll the ball of sorbet in it so it’s completely coated. Serve.
You should get an amazing hit of really icy cold intense Coke, like the way you wished ice pops were when you were wee, and then just when you think you’ve missed it, a blast of amazing mouth puckering flavour that jolts right through you and wakes you right up. You’ll be torn between making it stop and not being able to resist yet another mouthful. It’s oddly irresistable. Bring out the big kid in yourself with this most grown up of all cola bottles…