Buckfast sorbet…

Alcohol, sugar, caffeine, ice… it’s Buckfast sorbet!

Buckfast may be made in the bucolic countryside of Devon, but its spiritual home is Scotland and Northern Ireland. A bottle or two of ‘Buckie‘ on a night out is a rite of passage for under-age drinkers when growing up either side of the Irish Sea. So it made perfect sense that since Mister North and Miss South are half Scottish, but raised in Belfast they would rise to the challenge of using up the leftover tonic wine from Burns’ Night

Neither of us ever had much of a taste for drinking Buckfast, preferring something a little less sweet and syrup-like on the palate when we were younger. Yet now the sweetness of Buckfast made it seem like the perfect candidate for making a sorbet. The sheer incongruousness of this most chi-chi dessert made with something so low-brow made it seem all the more perfect!

I have never made sorbet before, but I have sampled some delicious alcohol infused varieties in my time, so I felt fairly confident that Buckfast could be given the icy treatment just fine. I decided to play it safe though and use a recipe from Delia Smith to prevent any mishaps. I adapted this lovely sounding recipe for Mulled Wine Sorbet to my needs.

As you would expect with Delia, it was all very straightforward even though I don’t have an ice-cream machine. I made the sugar syrup and chilled it well before adding the also well chilled Buckfast and popping the mixture in the freezer for several hours. I failed to notice the instruction to cover the sorbet at this point which meant I spilled some and it may not have started to freeze as quickly. You of course won’t make that mistake.

After just over 3 hours in the freezer, I added an egg white that had been whipped until foamy and stirred it in well to make sure it was evenly dispersed. It was then back to the freezer for another 6 to 7 hours, stirring hourly to get the correct consistency. I would recommend making the sugar syrup and chilling it the night before so you can get this recipe underway nice and early in the day to prevent eating dessert at 11pm as we had to do!

After a fantastic meal of Roast Woodcock and Sirloin Steak with Wet Garlic and Blacksticks Blue, we were ready for a light palate-cleansing dessert. Instead we actually tried the Buckfast Sorbet…

It had frozen well, but wasn’t just as firm and icy as I would have liked and began melting quite quickly. This might have been because of the fairly high 15% alcohol content. It was a surprisingly attractive ruby red colour on serving and on first mouthful, it was also surprisingly pleasant tasting! The herbal notes were quite apparent and the flavour of the alcohol was minimised by the cold. I should however declare that I rather like things that taste like cough medicine and on first sampling this might well as been a Covonia sorbet.

The raw alcohol flavour began to kick in on the second or third mouthful as the ice crystals melted, giving that distinctive Buckfast flavour. I could feel a warming in my chest, but I’m not sure if that was the booze or the heavy amounts of caffeine this tonic wine contains. This dessert felt more like a pick-me-up than a palate cleanser. I had to admit defeat about halfway through the glass, although I did sample the now melted sorbet as a cocktail as well. Turns out despite its red wine base, Buckfast is far more pleasant when cold!

I won’t be making this particular sorbet again (or probably ever drinking Buckfast ever again) but I am looking forward to tweaking the recipe to make a Pimms and Grapefruit sorbet this summer instead! I might even be willing to serve that one to guests without fear of a fight breaking out over the petit fours…

8 replies
  1. mister_north
    mister_north says:

    I’m very glad we tried this. I’m also very glad we didn’t finish the dessert, despite the novelty and numbing effect of the ice, the unmistakable taste of the Buckie seeped through! The fact we were in stitches throughout much of the process made the whole think more comedic and memorable… 🙂

    Props for technical skills, respect for the effort, but no surprises that the ‘wreck the hoose juice’ was a bit mingin’!

  2. Stu
    Stu says:

    We are on the same wavelength here.
    Planning a Scottish themed Christmas dinner and thought I’d throw in a Buckie sorbet between the starter and main. I have in fact tried Delia’s recipe you based this on before to great effect so reckoned the substitution would work well. Just thought I’d google it to see what came up and here you are!
    I’ve also made a pear and prosecco version which was delish!

  3. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Ha! I’m tempted to try your pear and prosecco one for Christmas myself. The Delia recipe was great apart from me not reading it accurately. Let me know how your version goes!

  4. Mister North
    Mister North says:

    Sounds great Stu, good luck with it and hope your guests appreciate the classy delights of a bit o’ Buckie! The Pear & Prosecco sorbet sounds heavenly though, perfect for a summer’s evening…

  5. Stu
    Stu says:

    Will let you know now it goes. think I should test drive it in advance to avoid any disasters on the day. Was slightly worried about sourcing the product in London but have tracked it down to the whisky shop in Vinopolis!

    Full menu is:
    Scottish salmon soup
    Buckfast sorbet
    Scotch beef on the bone with roast vegetables
    Drambuie ice cream, crème brulée and clootie dumpling

    We’ll probably need a good single malt to round off. Always finish on a double I say.

  6. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Expect your doorbell to ring on Christmas Day no you’ve published that menu! Sounds utterly divine…

    Weirdly although I don’t drink Buckfast I always assess the quality of a London off licence by whether they stock it or not. You find it in the oddest places, but will bear Vinopolis in mind instead of sending people to far flung offies in bits of South London they don’t really want to visit!

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