Mango and Prickly Pear Sorbet with Dark Rum

Prickly pears are an incredible tasting and colorful fruit. We get ours fresh from local cactus around where we live but they can also be found in select markets. Unfortunately, most of the prickly pears are harvested before their time so the full, sweet flavor is missing from many supermarket fruit. Their color is gorgeous magenta and their flavor is sweet, reminiscent of figs.

If you can get prickly pears freshly harvested, they are highly addicting - it is hard stopping at one. As a cactus fruit, they do come with some advance preparation to remove their prickly spines. I've found the best way to remove the spines is to take a handheld blow torch to them. I hold the fruit stuck with a kitchen carving fork in one hand and lightly run the flame over the surface with the other. The spines simply burn away - see the photos below.

Prickly pears go with many things but mango pairs especially well with prickly pears. Find the ripest and sweetest cactus fruits you can find for this recipe as the color and flavor of the sorbet will depend entirely on the quality of the fruit. The same goes for the mangoes.

While an ice cream maker will make sorbet quickly, a regular food processor completes the task easily. Simply freeze the fruit mixture until solid, chop up with a chef's knife into frozen chunks and process until smooth. This makes a perfect soft-serve sorbet to serve immediately, or freeze if a firmer style is desired.

This fruit sorbet recipe includes dark rum but try whatever liqueurs or brandies in your liquor cabinet. Suggestions include Midori (melon flavored), white rum, Chambord (raspberry flavored), Grand Marnier (orange flavored), or Kirschwasser (a clear, unsweetened cherry flavored brandy). A little alcohol contributes to the overall smoothness of the sorbet since the alcohol itself actually helps to inhibit freezing.

Mango and Prickly Pear Sorbet with Dark Rum
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 lb. cut up ripe mango fruit
  • 4 ounces prickly pear cactus fruit puree
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum

Combine the water and sugar in small saucepan and bring to a low boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar completely. Remove from heat and let the simple syrup cool completely.

In a blender or food processor, blend the fresh mango until smooth. If using frozen chopped mango fruit, let thaw completely then puree until smooth. Obtain the prickly pear puree: carefully peel and chop the fruit of the prickly pear. Place in a fine mesh sieve or chinois and press to extract the juice and pulp. Measure out 4 ounces.

In a freezer-safe container, stir the pureed mango, strained prickly pear fruit, and simple syrup. Add in the dark rum and stir well. Place in a freezer and let the mixture freeze solid.

Remove the frozen mixture from the freezer and chop up into pieces that will fit inside the bowl of a food processor. Process the frozen cubes until the sorbet is smooth and all the ice pieces have been crushed.

Serve immediately, or place back in the freezer for about an hour for a more firm sorbet.


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