The sorbet should be made in advance. The remaining components can be assembled just before serving.

Serves 4

For the sorbet

  • 5 ounces golden caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality balsamic vinegar

For the berries

  • 12 ounces strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and quartered
  • Twist of black pepper (Tellicherry peppercorns if you can find them)
  • Seeds from half a vanilla pod, scraped
  • Mint leaves for decoration

Make the sorbet

1. Put sugar and 18 fluid ounces cold water into a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and, without stirring, bring the syrup to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer, still without stirring, for about 3 minutes.

2. Remove mixture from heat and leave to cool. Blend with 1 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar.

3. Churn in an ice cream maker until done. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, put mixture into a freezer-proof container and freeze for 2 hours, until the edges start to set. Remove and stir vigorously using a fork. Return to the container and freeze again. Repeat every hour for the next 6 hours, then leave in the freezer until frozen hard.

Prepare the berries

Just before guests arrive, mix strawberries with a twist or two of freshly ground black pepper and seeds from vanilla pod. If you don’t have pod vanilla, use a teaspoon of good quality vanilla essence. Leave at room temperature to marinate.

To serve

Ten minutes before serving, remove the sorbet from the freezer to soften. Divide strawberries between 4 serving glasses. Top each with sorbet and 1 to 2 mint leaves. Serve immediately.

This recipe was originally published with the article, Berries of the Heart.