Strawberry shortcake recipe sheds light to sorbet/sherbert debacle


By Scott Greenberg

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 things, we usually don’t know what the hell we’re eating.

Sorbet makes 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.

Sherbert makes 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 percent 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 you’re pretty much eating the same thing over at Chez Paycheck.

Minus the superhero theme 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

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (1 cup) softened butter

1 cup sugar

2 egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup chopped pecans


1 1/2 cups water

2/3 cup sugar

2 cups Crème fraîche

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 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. Hull your strawberries, and add them to a medium pot along with the sugar and lemon juice.

Crush the strawberries with a big wooden spoon, then turn on the heat to medium-high. Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved, and 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.

Once the jam is done cooking, let it cool, and store it in the fridge.

Next is the shortbread. Whisk the dry stuff in a bowl: flour, baking powder and salt. Get your stand mixer and beat the butter and sugar together on low until they’re light and creamy. Remember not to over-mix any of this stuff; shortbread’s supposed to be rough and sort of chunky.

Mix in the egg yolks and the vanilla. Add the dry stuff and mix that in until you have a recognizable dough. Wrap the dough in some plastic wrap and refrigerate it for an hour. Take it out, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and spray a 10 by 10 inch baking pan with non-stick.

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 will give you the nice kind of rough texture I was talking about before. Also, you’re going to have to press the dough down a little bit.

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 five 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 the it’s clear, then take it off heat and let it cool completely.

Beat together the crème fraîche, 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 this all into a container and refrigerate overnight.

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, let it thaw for seven minutes, then cut yourself a square.

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 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.