Cranberry Sorbet

ice cream bombe with orange caramel sauce

Every year at Christmas, I make the dessert. With a bakery on every corner in Paris, there’s not a lot of impetus for the locals to make a resplendent dessert for the traditional dinner. It’s not that people don’t bake, but with the small city kitchens and all the other stuff that limits time around the holidays, it’s just as simple to head to the corner bakery and pick up a cake or tart. Or, of course, ask David to do it.

Because of my unique position as the in-house baker, dessert usually falls on my shoulders and if I presented a store-bought dessert, I would likely get run out of town on a rail. (When the trains aren’t on strike, that is.) So this year since I got a bit pressed for time as the holidays approached, I decided to make something refreshing which could be made well in advance, and made an ice cream bombe. I always thought that a bombe glacée was a fairly well-known French dessert, but Romain had no idea what I was talking about and got a little frightened when I told him I was going to make a bomb for Christmas. So I didn’t push it and just said I was making three different kinds of ice cream in a pan.


I had a bag in my freezer of apricot purée made from the last of the fresh apricots from Provence that flooded the markets at the end of the summer, figuring I’d put them to good use sometime soon. And after a filling meal, I like a little zing from ginger in my dessert—and why not some chocolate? So the first layer was apricot sorbet, and the middle layer of my bombe was White Chocolate-Fresh Ginger Ice Cream. But what I didn’t have was any idea what would be the final layer. I was thinking of something both colorful and strong-tasting, that would stand up to the creamy-spiced ice cream and tangy sorbet.


Shauna is the gluten-free sister I never had and from the moment I met her a few years ago in Seattle when I was on book tour, from the first bite of sushi we shared to the last grounds of our Seattle-made coffee, I was as hooked as are her legions of fans. I was reading her newest book, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef and saw her husband’s recipe for Cranberry-Shiso Sorbet, which I used as inspiration for this sorbet. I knew it would pair nicely with the other flavors, yet be assertive enough to hold its own.

plates & forks chocolate biscotti

Cranberries are frightfully expensive in Paris because they’re shipped from America: available only around the holidays, they normally sell for anywhere between €4 and €6 ($5 to $8) a bag. I did find one sack marked down right after Thanksgiving because I would imagine the few people who buy them in Paris are Americans.

But once the holidays are over, demand is fairly low—they’re relatively unknown and I’ve never seen a dessert in France that used cranberries. And when I served the sorbet, I had to spend a few minutes explaining what les canneberges were because the French are an inquisitive lot. (When I got to the part about flooding the bogs to harvest the berries, I think I lost about half the room, and that was enough and everyone stopped asking questions and started digging in.)


Fortunately a friend brought me a few bags from the states who came to visit recently and I noticed the bags are now 12 ounces, rather than the previous one-pound sacks. Still, I’m fortunate to have a few bags in my freezer which I hope will last until the next year.

orange caramel orange caramel sauce

The bombe was a big hit, no pun intended. And since you won’t find biscotti in any Parisian bakery, I made a batch of them, a thought which occured at the last minute when I realized I was missing a key ingredient for the other cookies I was planning on making. (Note to self: One should make sure they have almonds on hand if they plan to make almond cookies the day before Christmas.) But I did have some fresh, juicy clementines which I made a suave caramel sauce out of with a shot of Cointreau, which was just right dribbled over the duo of sorbets and ice cream.

ice cream bombe

Hope you all had a great holiday celebration…and ate well too—wherever you are!

Cranberry Sorbet
Print Recipe
About 1 quart (1L)
Inspired by Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef by Shauna James Ahern and Danny AhernI veered quite a bit from the original recipe, which had shiso leaves and an apple added to the puree. I added a tablespoon of liqueur, which helps keep the sorbet scoopable after it’s churned and frozen. You can omit it, or replace it with another favorite spirit.
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
1/2 cup (125ml), plus 1/4 cup (60ml) water
12 ounces (340g) fresh or frozen cranberries (if frozen, thaw first)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (125ml) orange or tangerine juice, preferably freshly squeezed
optional: 1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier
1. In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar with 1/2 cup (125ml) water then add the cranberries and a pinch of salt.
2. Cover, and cook at a low boil for about 10 minutes, or until the cranberries are completely softened.
3. Remove from heat and let the cranberries sit until room temperature, covered.
4. Once the cranberries have cooled, puree the cranberries with any liquid and the orange juice, 1/4 cup water (60ml), and the orange-flavored liqueur, if using.
5. Chill thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To make an ice cream or sorbet bombe: Choose any smooth plastic or metal container as a mold. Decide how many layers of ice cream or sorbet you want to add, then fill the container with water. Measure out the water with a measuring cup. Take the total volume and divide by the number of layers, and then you’ll know the quantity to use for each layer. (For example if the container holds 6 cups of water and you want 3 layers, each layer should be 2 cups of ice cream or sorbet.)

Line the mold with plastic film and smooth it down as much as possible, then chill it in the freezer. Plastic molds don’t need to be lined, but it does help unmold the bombe later.

Freeze each batch of ice cream or sorbet. Add one layer at a time, when the ice cream is spreadable, shortly after it comes out of the machine. Once you’ve put in a layer, rap the mold on a folded tea towel on the kitchen counter to release any air bubbles then re-freeze the mold as you wait for the next layer. For best results, let the layers get firm before you add another layer.

(If you want to use store-bought ice cream, simply let each one soften until spreadable to make layers.)

Note that being water- or fruit-based, sorbets tend to be icy and harder than ice cream once frozen. So it’s a good idea to add alcohol or use another technique for keeping it softer when frozen.

Cover and freeze the bombe until ready to serve. To serve, uncover the bombe turn it onto a well-chilled serving plate then lift off the mold. Remove the plastic wrap and cut slices with a sharp knife dipped in very hot water between slicing each portion.

making ice cream & sorbet bombe

Related Posts and Links

Tips for Making Homemade Ice Cream Softer

White Chocolate-Fresh Ginger Ice Cream

Buying an Ice Cream Maker

Chocolate Biscotti

Cranberry Ice Cream with White Chocolate Chunks (Serious Eats)

The Easiest Chocolate Ice Cream Ever

Apricot Sorbet (The Perfect Scoop)

Making Ice Cream Without a Machine

Orange Caramel Sauce (Ready for Dessert)

Cranberry Sorbet

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  • December 27, 2010 1:14pm

    Wow! I have to try this! Sounds delicious and simple! I love dishes like this.Thanks for sharing.

  • December 27, 2010 1:18pm

    This looks absolutely beautiful. I was very into making sorbets this summer and they are a great refreshing change from ice cream. Will definitely give this a try!

    Hope you had a great holiday as well!

  • amanda
    December 27, 2010 2:00pm

    wonderful as always,love those plates to death,happy new year!

  • December 27, 2010 2:10pm

    I’m at the top of the comment queue for a change!! Bombe looks great, will give it a try for one of my supperclubs……

  • December 27, 2010 2:12pm

    Looks appetising. If the top later was blue and the bottom layer slighlty lighter it would have resembled the French flag…that would have earned you national fame perhaps:)

  • December 27, 2010 2:15pm
    David Lebovitz

    Three-Cookies: Blue is kind of a tough color for food, since it’s not readily found in nature. Blueberries and Bluejays are two notable exceptions, and only one is truly suitable for making ice cream.

    However where there is a will, there is a way

  • December 27, 2010 2:29pm

    Hailing from New England, I was lucky enough to stumble across cranberries at the farmers’ market in November. I made cranberry cordial for the holidays and have been hoarding the remaining berries in my freezer ever since. I think it’s time to put them to good use. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • December 27, 2010 2:38pm

    I feel like I was almost channelling you, the ice cream maker extraordinaire, for Christmas this year as I made raspberry granita for the first time. (Granita for the first time, that is.) Of course, it has nothing on the complexity and tastiness of this creation of yours… but then again, a girl’s gotta take baby steps. :P

  • December 27, 2010 2:54pm

    Absolutely beautiful and I do believe I could accomplish this.

  • Cooking in Mexico
    December 27, 2010 3:23pm

    David, all this lacks is a bow of ribbon to complete the image of a beautiful holiday gift!

    While I do not have fresh cranberries available in Mexico, I can see this same recipe made with my tropical fruits of mango, pineapple, guava or papaya.

    Prospero Año Nuevo! I look forward to the new year with your new food pics, recipes and inspiration.


  • December 27, 2010 3:30pm

    what a beautiful way to make sorbet…i’ve never actually seen it like this before and it’s stunning!

  • Elise
    December 27, 2010 3:45pm

    Awesome post! I made cranberry sorbet for Thanksgiving this year and it was an absolute hit. My daughter, who is the pickiest eater on the planet and will only eat vanilla ice cream, devoured it. I decided it’s better than raspberry sorbet. Such a fantastic use for cranberries!

  • Margaret
    December 27, 2010 3:46pm

    happy birthday David!

  • December 27, 2010 3:47pm

    Wow! Such vibrant colors; very beautiful and a great use of seasonal fruits.

  • December 27, 2010 3:54pm

    That looks amazing!

  • Dana
    December 27, 2010 4:01pm

    I had extra cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving this year, so I pureed, strained, and froze it into sorbet. It worked quite well!

  • Jennifer
    December 27, 2010 4:16pm

    That looks amazing, I can’t wait to make it!

  • December 27, 2010 4:29pm

    Just wanted to wish you a Happy B-Day and thank you for your lovely blog. I hope it brings you as much pleasure to create as it does for us to read.

  • December 27, 2010 4:31pm
    David Lebovitz

    RJ + Margaret: Hey, who let the cat out of the bag?

    ; )


  • Margaret
    December 27, 2010 5:00pm

    A few years ago you posted about the coconut cake that you have been waiting for someone to bake on your birthday :)

  • Jan Wilder
    December 27, 2010 5:01pm

    HB, fellow Capricorn!

    Santa brought me the best Christmas gift — Ready for Dessert, and wow — what a beautiful (and BIG) book! Lovely pictures, funny and insightful comments, and, of course, amazing recipes. That chocolate frosted banana cake? I’m drooling! Thanks for being you!

  • December 27, 2010 5:09pm

    David, I was laughing when you wrote about bringing a store bought dessert. I am in your same position among my friends, I almost always bring dessert and obviously it has to be home made or I would love my reputation.

    Lovely combination, and I would love to try the white chocolate ginger ice cream, I hope it is in your book.

    Happy New Year and since the cat is out of the bag now….Happy Birthday too.


  • Kathy Douthit
    December 27, 2010 5:14pm

    Hi David,

    Happy Birthday from me too! 27 is the best number…..all the best people I know were born on the 27th…including me.

    I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your posts about life and France and the French culture. I live here too, part of the time, in the middle of the country, and I find so many contradictions. I’m thinking of your post about the woman at La Poste apologizing about the stamps. The same thing happened to me (re: a pre-paid holiday mailing box that they had run out of), and the young woman was so worried that I was disappointed to have to take the plain ones. The other side of the coin is the clerk who doesn’t want to help you because it is 10 minutes before her lunch (2) hour(s). But all in all, they are really good people.

    You might enjoy a book that is actually available to be downloaded online: The book to download is “French and Americans: The Other Shore”. A really good explanation of the cultural differences between “nous” and the French.

    Have a wonderful New Year.

    Kathy Douthit
    03160 Couzon

  • December 27, 2010 5:37pm

    David: You’re The Bombe! Happy Birthday!

  • December 27, 2010 5:39pm

    Happy Birthday David and a Happy and healthy New Year!

  • December 27, 2010 5:45pm

    Im travelling around the world for a year and decided to take a break to come home for the holidays. I make the best cranberry relish on the planet (or at least that’s what I keep telling people) and told my mom all she needed to buy me was a bag of cranberries. She bought me 6 bags to feed 4 people. I asked myself “what on earth am I going to make with all these bags of cranberries???” So thank you, I can’t wait to give this a try!

  • Janet
    December 27, 2010 6:24pm

    It is a thing of beauty, David. They are lucky to have you as the stand-by dessert guy. Happy Birthday.

  • December 27, 2010 7:12pm

    THAT…is gorgeous! Truly a very special treat!

  • Kimberly Ortego Kuver
    December 27, 2010 7:17pm

    Sounds delicious and wonderfully inventive!

  • Lisa
    December 27, 2010 8:42pm

    Happy Birthday! Thanks again for the wonderful photos and recipes.

  • Claire
    December 27, 2010 8:51pm

    Looks like a great recipe which i’m excited to try! I have always translated cranberries as “airelles.”

  • December 27, 2010 9:22pm

    Looks so delicious!

  • December 27, 2010 9:24pm

    I could swoon and faint this looks so good.

  • AJ
    December 27, 2010 9:28pm

    What a gorgeous dessert! Lovely post — a gift in itself.

    Happy birthday from another 27er (January however).

  • Raelynn
    December 27, 2010 9:59pm

    dear david, happy belated birthday! the bombe looks beautiful =)

    i was wondering, how long do you usually keep your pureed fruits in the freezer? i’m usually quite worried about how long i can keep pastry dough or purees in the freezer.. can frozen fruits really keep inside for a whole year??

  • December 27, 2010 10:23pm

    fresh, colorful and delicious! Thanks for the recipe

  • Jeena Khan
    December 27, 2010 10:26pm

    What a beautiful idea! I’m bookmarking this for my next event! Also–happy birthday and happy new year!!

  • Jean Marie
    December 27, 2010 11:00pm

    Happy happy birthday, David! As always, a nice post with gorgeous photos of a delicious something to eat. I have made your chocolate cherry fruitcake twice lately and it’s been a huge hit.

  • Elke
    December 27, 2010 11:11pm

    We devoured your eggnog ice cream at our Christmas gathering this year. As I’ve told my brother (who just recently started making ice cream), all your recipes are crowd-pleasers! Happy Birthday!

  • December 27, 2010 11:33pm

    Hi David –
    Your friend was able to bring cranberries from the States? I’m amazed – flying from Japan to the US this year, they are now prohibiting things like dried ramen and curry in a bag – even when packed in your checked luggage. How I’d love to bring cranberries back with me to Japan! I don’t think customs would stand for it.

  • Tags
    December 28, 2010 12:01am

    Happy Birthday.

    My youngest brother & the best man at my wedding were both born on December 27th – it’s a favorite day of mine.

    Also, that apricot sorbet looks just like the walnut fudge the little old Irish lady next door used to give me when I was about five or six.

    BTW, did you read Adam Gopnik’s story about dessert chef science on the New Yorker website yet? Awesome.

  • Jan
    December 28, 2010 1:13am

    A great post, inspiring even though I don’t even have a freezer for my canneberges…By the way, your site formats perfectly on my boss-provided smart phone. I am just learning how many sites are not and really appreciate that yours is. Merci! And belated yet sincere wishes for a bonne anniversaire!

  • Deborah
    December 28, 2010 1:28am

    What a beautiful way to use the cranberries I’ve been hoarding! Thanks for the lovely recipe and and excuse to get out the ice cream maker during winter. Happy Birthday!

  • mamabigdog
    December 28, 2010 1:48am

    Is anyone else singing “Cranberry Sorbet” to the tune of “Raspberry Beret” by Prince as I am right now?

    Would love to see that biscotti recipe too, David!

    And I made the BEST challah bread pudding in the world on Christmas. Really delish.

  • December 28, 2010 2:03am

    Belated birthday wishes!

    Cranberries have become quite ubiquitous in Vienna around Thanksgiving and the prices have come down too: I paid only €2,99 this year while 5 years ago I paid double the price and they were hard to find. A year or two ago I even found cranberries grown in Germany!

    Btw, it is my impression that those familiar American cranberry bags have not weighed 16 oz for more than a few years now, sadly.

  • December 28, 2010 4:15am

    Wishing I froze apricot puree instead of zucchini puree….always a next time. A sweet, colorful ending to the holiday meal – all those luscious flavors calling. I am all about ease… so maybe one sorbet at a time – starting with the cranberry.And best wishes for your special day.

  • susan schwartz
    December 28, 2010 4:34am

    Mmmm. beautiful looking dessert.
    And happy birthday.
    You meant les canneberges, of course!!
    All the best.

  • December 28, 2010 5:12am

    David, this is so neat! Definitely a little different from just serving ice-cream.
    BTW, I just had to tell you for Xmas I got my Mom an ice-cream maker and of course your “Perfect Scoop”. She’s already marked quite a few she’d like to make. All the best for 2011! Paolita

  • suedoise
    December 28, 2010 8:52am

    A grand dessert for the eye let alone it is heavently longue en bouche
    – thank you so much with all the best for the new year!
    As for cranberries I have noticed the French cannot tell the difference between them and the lingonberries – les airelles /or in Latin: Vaccinium vitis-idaea/ both are red, both deliciously bitter. But les airelles come at a very reasonable prize and has a more elegant aroma quite frankly.

    They are sold deepfrozen in 250 gram (8 ounces)packages in any Picard shop all year round, advertised as “handpicked in Sweden”.
    Also sold fresh in pretty mountains of red berries all over Paris during season which is early autumn.
    Do try a lingonberry sorbet – as served in Stockholm during banquet for Nobel prize laureates :

    For six: 2 packages deepfrozen lingonberries, let thaw until you can purée them in a mixer with 1/2 cup of water.
    In saucepan heat 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar, let mixture cool, then add the lingonberry puree add 2 tablespoons of vodka, chill thoroughly then put in your ice cream maker or in your freezer ( takes some two hours or more, when ready put in mixer for maximum smoothness and then back in freezer until ready to serve.
    Wonderful alternative to cranberry sorbet in David s bomb.. .
    A fine sause for dark meat is made from mixing 8 oz lingonberries with 1/2 cup of sugar until sugar is dissolved. Serve at once, the rest will freeze

  • December 28, 2010 9:33am

    Danny and I are so so so honored. That looks AMAZING!

    Of course, you are even more amazing, my gluten-eating brother. I wish I could see you right now and give you a big birthday hug. xoxox

  • December 28, 2010 10:50am
    David Lebovitz

    suedoise: I’ve seen (and tried) the airelles in Picard and while they are good, they don’t have the same assertive tang that cranberries have. I would agree that the French palate is probably more welcoming to the milder airelles, though. Thanks for the recipe.

    susan: Interestingly, I’ve seen it spelled both ways here in Paris and on French recipe websites. But since the Ocean Spray website does say ‘canneberges’, I updated that.

    mamabigdog: That recipe is in my book Ready for Dessert and on the site. Enjoy!

    Shauna: Thanks! xx

  • December 28, 2010 3:52pm

    That’s the only unfortunate thing about being a Food Hound– you can’t show up empty-handed to ANYTHING, nor can you tote something store-bought!! This sorbet sounds divine, and the layered bombe looks very impressive!!

  • Susan
    December 28, 2010 4:34pm

    Happy Birthday, David. Hope you got your coconut cake this year! What a perfect sounding combination of flavors in your bombe. I must grab a few bags of cranberries to stash in the freezer so I can make this once ‘cots come back in season. I used all my cot puree for jam this year. Dang! Well, not really; it was so good, but I’d love to make a sorbet from them, too.

  • BirthdayPartyBabble
    December 28, 2010 7:11pm

    I can’t believe this…this is so perfect. I have a fall/winter cranberry themed party in my head I just need to get onto my site. It was inspired by niece at Thanksgiving when she looked at the cranberry relish and said, “this is the color I want my whole house, it just makes me smile.” And now I have the perfect dessert…that just made ME smile. Thanks.

  • December 28, 2010 8:35pm

    Happy Birthday! This is so doable! Love the instructions for the layered version. Thanks!

  • December 28, 2010 9:50pm

    We still have cranberry sauce left over from Thanksgiving. Do you think we can just throw it in the ice cream machine and get sorbet? Seems like the same ingredients.

  • December 28, 2010 10:26pm

    I’m usually dubious about sorbets and bombes, they can be fairly… boring? This combo of apricot (loooove tart apricot), cran and ginger/choc sounds like a winner.

  • CVinDC
    December 28, 2010 10:47pm

    Have a wonderful birthday David and thank you for sharing the real deal on life (as an expat) in France. We really love your posts. Cheers.

  • December 28, 2010 10:47pm

    David this looks amazing! Great idea for apricots, I have an apricot tree that I hope next year will give me lots of fruit to make apricot sorbet with!

  • December 29, 2010 6:13am

    Oh wow…awesome sorbet…so colourful and healthy. It sure blows my mind like a bomb! :P I also learned that there’s no biscotti in Paris. I know what to bring now if I go there…haha. Thanks very much for sharing that beautiful 3 layered sorbet. Happy Holidays!

  • December 29, 2010 1:28pm

    Oh my! This looks so good! A happy, happy birthday to you!


  • December 29, 2010 4:50pm

    This is a beautiful post and recipe, David. Makes me want to rush into the kitchen and ready it. I also love the look of the slice on the blue and white plate–I wouldn’t have thought of that pairing and it’s wonderful. Keep up the good work–and have a wonderful New Year.

  • Sue
    December 30, 2010 5:41am

    I did something like this last summer with homemade raspberry, mango and blueberry sorbets; it was a huge hit, and was the perfect dessert for my gluten-intolerant four year old granddaughter :) Incredibly intense flavours…thanks for all your fantastic inspiration!

  • Emily
    January 1, 2011 3:25pm

    Have you considered trying the European versions of the cranberry?

    Here in Poland, we have “zurawina” and “borowka.” Technically the zurawina is closer to the cranberry – maybe even a true cranberry – but I find the skins here to be a bit thick. Borowka (in English, “bilberry”) are much smaller than cranberries but have the same delicious flavor. They are delicate and versatile.

    In Poland, you can buy these fruits fresh in the autumn, and made into jarred preserves (widely) or flash frozen (by specialty foods producers) year round.

    Google translate says that “borowka” in French is myrtille, and “zurawina” is canneberge.

  • January 1, 2011 3:33pm
    David Lebovitz

    Yes, I’ve tried airelles, which are lingonberries, which they sell frozen in Paris. I’ve not seen them fresh anywhere here, but I did get served them once at a restaurant and although slightly cooked, I could tell they’d procured them fresh. I do like them but they’re not quite the same as cranberries, which are much more tart than lingonberries.

    American-style blueberries (myrtilles) are available here but they’re usually frightfully expensive and just a few berries are in each package (perhaps about 25 berries per), so it’d be hard to justify pureeing enough for a sorbet.

  • dottie chang
    January 2, 2011 11:27pm

    I would love to see what the interior of your freezer looks like! I’m sort of imagining a cross between Mary Poppin’s carpet bag and Felix the Cat’s Bag of Tricks. Could you post a shot of it someday?

    My freezer seems to destroy food. I have turned it up and down to no avail. How do you wrap things to prepare them so they aren’t disgusting when defrosted?

  • January 3, 2011 11:55pm

    Making this right now! I’ve been wondering what to do with this giant bag of cranberries you could only buy in the states :0 I’ve already made scones and a tart, and I still have some left, so now it’s on to ice cream. Thanks David!

  • marybeth
    January 5, 2011 9:10pm

    David – can you direct me to the recipe for the suave caramel sauce with tangerines in it?

    • January 5, 2011 11:30pm
      David Lebovitz

      Marybeth: It’s in my book, Ready for Dessert. It’s the orange caramel sauce and I used tangerine juice in place of the orange.

  • January 12, 2011 12:29pm

    Looks delicious and fruity!

  • January 14, 2011 12:49am

    Hi David! I’ve been making your ice cream recipes nonstop since I bought The Perfect Scoop a few months ago. I was so excited when I saw this recipe because I have an ungodly amount of cranberries in my freezer! The cranberry sorbet is still a little tart by itself, but it goes great with your white chocolate ice cream! I think I’ll be making a bombe for our next party with the white chocolate, cranberry and either cinnamon or pear ice cream. Thanks for sharing!

  • Tina
    January 21, 2011 1:36pm

    You are really amazing. With all the recipes you have included in your blog all I can say is WOW. I really appreciate your effort in sharing what you know. Your experiences are our teacher in cooking and I am really adopting some of your recipes. I am glad that I have found your blog.