If you’re looking for something a little different to serve for dessert on Saturday (which in case you’ve forgotten, guys, is Valentine’s Day) how about a dessert martini?
OK, purists will fling up their hands in horror - these are, of course, not martinis in the strict sense of the word, merely very pretty, seductive drinks - half cocktail, half dessert - which you serve in a (preferably frosted) martini glass.
What you need is a tub of ice cream or sorbet - the flavour is up to you, a neutral spirit (vodka, white rum or silver tequila) and possibly a complementary liqueur or fruit juice (a squeeze of lime juice with mango, for instance). Don’t be tempted to skimp on the ingredients though - you don’t want these cocktails to taste cheap.
Proportions should be 1 generous scoop of ice cream or sorbet per person, 11/2-2 shots of spirits and maybe 1/2 a shot of liqueur. Simply whizz all the ingredients up in a blender, check for taste (that’s the good bit), decorate and serve.
In the past I’ve made a sublime chocolate mint martini for two with a couple of scoops of Green & Black’s mint chocolate ice cream, 4 shots of vodka and 2 tbsp Kahlua. I see they don’t make that flavour any more but you could add a few drops of creme de menthe or peppermint essence to their dark chocolate ice cream.
Fruit sorbets respond really well to this treatment. Add a couple of shots of tequila to a few fresh strawberries sweetened with a little sugar, whizz then add a scoop of strawberry sorbet and whizz again for a delicious frozen strawberry margarita. Mango sorbet is great with white rum and a dash of lime, lemon sorbet can be enhanced by vodka and limoncello and orange by vodka and a dash of Cointreau or Grand Marnier.
The trick is to add the alcohol element cautiously (you can always add a little more) and carefully check the balance between the base flavour and the booze. It's useful to have some sugar syrup (gomme) to hand to add a little extra sweetness if needed. Oh, and start with all your bottles fridge cold so your frozen cocktail doesn’t thaw too quickly.
Finally for a sure-fire winner let me give you my recipe for a banoffee martini which also makes a very effective - and easy - dinner party dessert if you make it in slightly larger quantities.
1 medium sized ripe*, peeled, sliced banana (about 100g peeled weight)
3 shots (6 tbsp) vanilla vodka
2 shots (4 tbsp) toffee-flavoured liqueur (such as Dooley's)
2 shots (4 tbsp) whole milk (i.e. not semi-skimmed)
A tiny pinch of ground nutmeg (optional)
Good quality powdered drinking chocolate to garnish
Whizz the banana in a blender with the vodka. Tip the puree into a shaker full of ice cubes, add the toffee liqueur, milk and nutmeg if using and shake vigorously. Strain into chilled martini glasses and sift a little chocolate powder over the surface.
* This is important. Don't attempt this with an underripe banana or the banana flavour won't come through.