Strawberry Shortcake Sherbet Bars

29 Jun


One of the first lines of the Wikipedia article for sherbet pretty much sums it up:

“Sorbet is often confused with Italian ice and often taken to be the same as sherbet.”

Translation: like most other things, we usually don’t know what the hell we’re eating.

Say the word ‘sorbet’, and you instantly think of a gently-mustached fellow handing you a warm hand towel and giving you a soft, refreshing lemon sorbet to cleanse your pallet in preparation for a cut of meat that will probably cost roughly half your net worth.

Say the word ‘sherbet’, and you think of multicolored garbage (that for some reason is always labelled “Superman flavor”) in the back of a gas station, served to you in a paper Dixie cup with an ice cream scoop that’s older than you are and made up of at least 75% rust.

And yet, if you do a little reading, you’ll find out that they’re…pretty much the same thing.  One ingredient (milk, if you didn’t do your homework already) separates sorbet from sherbet, and it’s only one damn percent of it.  One.  And trust me, there’s plenty of sorbet recipes out there on the food-blog-net-web-thing that don’t have a trace of milk or cream in them, and plenty of sherbet recipes that do.

Case in point: if you’re looking down on Gas Station Steve for eating that nuclear raspberry-flavored sherbet, just know that you’re pretty much eating the same thing over at Chez Bullshit.

Minus the superhero themed flavors.

And the rust.

Here’s what you need:


–          2 cups strawberries

–          1 cup sugar

–          1/8 teaspoon lemon juice (just take half a lemon and squeeze it a bit, it ain’t enough to bother measuring)


–          2 cups AP flour

–          1 teaspoon baking powder

–          ¼ teaspoon salt

–          2 sticks (1 cup) softened butter

–          1 cup sugar

–          2 egg yolks

–          ½ teaspoon almond extract

–          1 cup chopped pecans



–          1 ½ cups water

–          2/3 cup sugar

–          2 cups crème fraiche

–          1 teaspoon vanilla

–          1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice

–          1 tablespoon lemon zest (about half a lemon’s worth)

Here’s how you do it:

First, we’re gonna do the jam, because it’s face-cripplingly easy.


Hull your strawberries (that means cut the tops off, people) and add them to a medium pot along with the sugar and lemon juice.

Crush the strawberries with a big wooden spoon as best you can, then turn on the heat to medium-high.  Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved, then turn it down to low.

Stir occasionally, making sure you keep crushing the strawberries, and wait until it’s jam.  It should take around half an hour, but all you have to do is keep stirring, crushing, and checking.  Is it jam yet?  No?  Keep waiting.  Yes?  Congratulations, you’ve got jam.  This isn’t fucking rocket science.

Once the jam is done cooking, take it off heat, let it cool, and store it in the fridge until later.  Preferably in a mason jar.  It just feels…wrong in anything else.

Next, the shortbread.

Again, easy stuff: shortbread is basically a brick of cooked butter and sugar.  It is the cookiest of all cookies, and also the easiest, so if you can handle a batch of chocolate chip, this one won’t be a problem.

Whisk the dry stuff in a bowl: flour, baking powder, and salt.

Get your stand mixer (and yes, you better have one, they’re glorious alters of pastry-making bliss) and beat the butter and sugar together on low until they’re light and creamy.  Remember not to overmix any of this stuff; shortbread’s supposed to be rough and sort of chunky.  If you’re looking for light and flaky, go find yourself a croissant or a fucking flavorless wafer or something.  This ain’t that.

Mix in the egg yolks and the vanilla.

Add the dry stuff and mix that in too, just until you have a recognizable dough.  And if you can’t recognize what dough looks like, go take up painting or interpretative dance or some shit.

Wrap the dough in some plastic wrap and refrigerate it for an hour.

Take it out, preheat your oven to 350, and spray a 10’x10’ baking pan with non-stick.  Or whatever you have lying around, it doesn’t really matter as long as it’s close to that size.

Here’s a trick I learned from this recipe: shred the dough with the largest holes of a box cheese grater into the baking pan.  That’ll give you the nice kind of rough texture I was talking about before.  Also, you’re gonna have to press the dough down a little bit, (ignoring what that recipe says) just don’t do it too much.

Put the pan on the bottom rack of your oven for 18 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for another 17; 35 minutes total.  If it still isn’t golden brown and delicious-looking, take the foil off and keep baking at 5 minute intervals until it gets that way.

While the shortbread cools, start the sherbet.

Put the water and sugar in a small saucepan, and bring it up to a boil while stirring.  Keep stirring until it’s clear, then take it off heat and let it cool completely.


Beat together the crème fraiche, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla in a stand mixer, then slowly pour in the sugar/water syrup and mix on low until everything’s combined.

Pour it all into a container and refrigerate overnight.  In case you didn’t already notice, this recipe has a shit-ton of refrigerating going on.

When the shortbread’s fully cooled, layer the jam over it with a spatula and freeze for about half an hour.

Mix the sherbet liquid in an ice cream maker until it becomes sherbet, layer that over the jam, then top with the pecans.  You might not need the whole cup, but you want enough to get a solid layer of nuts for that old-school strawberry shortbread bar goodness.

Freeze the whole thing for a couple hours more (I promise this is the last time), let it thaw for 7 minutes, then cut yourself a square and enjoy.

Cut out a square of some of these beats too. It’s The Roots with Lazy Afternoon:

I’m sure if you’re a real scholar of cooking-related things instead of a bullshitter like me, you know the exact chemical/historical/whateverical differences between sorbet and sherbet.  There’s probably a law in France that executes you if you don’t have the right ice content in your sorbet or something, I don’t know.  But for us laymen, it’s frozen, it’s fruity, and it’s delicious.

I don’t know about you, but that’s sure as hell good enough for me.

I’ll see you next time, readers.






3 Responses to “Strawberry Shortcake Sherbet Bars”

  1. Madjean July 5, 2014 at 4:18 am #

    I somehow read through this entire recipe and went out and bought all the ingredients for it without realizing that I don’t actually own an ice cream maker…kinda seems essential for the sherbet, in retrospect. Oh well, I’ll figure out something else to do with all that cream and strawberries. This looks amazing, though!

    • Scott Greenberg July 5, 2014 at 4:31 am #

      Well, you could make the jam and shortbread and combine the cream with a little bit of powdered sugar and vanilla to make whipped cream.

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