Lemon Shells Stuffed with Lemon Sorbet

We first experienced this delicious desert at Nonna Gelsa's Ristorante in the Tuscumbrian town of Umbertide, Italy, some 13 years ago. We loved the desert's simple elegance and were blown away by how refreshing and light the lemon sorbet was. When we introduced our son to this desert three years ago he too had a similar experience. So when we recently had some close family friends over to dinner at our place we decided to attempt to make this very special desert.

Our eldest son, Jake, was very enthusiastic to help prepare the desert with his father. Indeed, it proved to be a great bonding experience. We first started by gutting the 8 lemons. Using a two sided grapefruit knife (one edge had two blades to cut the  membranes while the opposite side had a serated/curved blade) we were able to gut the lemons fairly quickly. I handled the cutting while Jake handled the juicing and the zesting (he is now an expert zester). We then placed the empty lemon shells in the freezer and started on making the sorbet. Jake loved this part as it was fairly easy and required more sugar then he had ever seen. After preparing the sorbet we placed the sorbet in the freezer and stirred/mashed the sorbet every couple of hours. By the end of the 2nd day, Jake really mashed the sorbet and learned how to whip it into a smooth creamy texture. The zest flecks were really neat to look at and Jake said that the sorbet tasted delicious. The next day we stuffed the lemon shells with the sorbet making a point to let the sorbet overflow a bit. We placed the tops back on each Lemon and let the stuffed shells sit over night in the freezer. Our friends absolutely loved the desert and it was especially refreshing after a rather large meal.


Yields: 8 servings
Prep time: 20-30 min

8 lemons*
1/3 cup lemon zest (you'll need 3-5 additional lemons)
1 cup strained fresh-squeezed lemons Juice (from lemons used for cups)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 grapefruit knife or similar type of knife to gut and clean out the lemons
* You'll need one lemon per person. Make sure the end (not the stem end) has a nice shaped "bump" and try to purchase uniform lemons.)

1. Cut off the top 1/3 of the lemon (not the stem end) and reserve for the "cap." 

2. Hollow out each lemon by using a grapefruit knife (the angled blade keeps you from puncturing the bottom and you can also cut underneath the center of the fruit) just inside the rind and circling the flesh (being careful not to puncture the lemon). 

3. Remove juice and flesh and put it in your juicer. Use a strainer if you do not have a juicer.

4. Make a slight shallow cut on the bottom of each lemon shells (being careful not to cut through to the inside of the lemon). This will make them sit straight and not fall over when placed on a plate. 

5. Freeze the shells at least one hour or overnight. Then fill with sorbet and freeze again. this sorbet can be made ahead and will keep several days in the freezer. The frozen shell will prevent the sorbet from melting too quickly when you serve it.

Making Lemon Sorbet (should be done in advance of the steps above)
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water until sugar dissolves. Add lemon zest. Stir until mixture comes to a boil; boil 2 minute. Add the lemon juice, stir well. Remove from heat, cool, and strain. Pour cooled mixture into a shallow container, cover, and freeze overnight.
Ice Cream Maker - Transfer mixture to ice cream maker, process according to manufacturer's instructions.
Freezer Method - Pour into container, cover, and place mixture in the freezer. When it is semi-solid, mash it up with a fork and refreeze again. When frozen, place in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Cover and refreeze until serving time. We found that we had to mash the sorbet several times over two days in the fridge.
NOTE: Can be prepared 3 days in advance. Cover and keep frozen.
Makes 8 servings.

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