Maggie Huff's Cantaloupe Concerto

By Amelia Schwartz | Will Blunt


Amelia Schwartz
Will Blunt
Cantaloupe Sorbet, Honeydew, Labneh, Basil Shiso Granita, Sourdough Bread Crumb, Black Pepper, Olive Oil
Cantaloupe Sorbet, Honeydew, Labneh, Basil Shiso Granita, Sourdough Bread Crumb, Black Pepper, Olive Oil

The humble cantaloupe—a fruit that is hidden in plain sight. It’s always available, always affordable, but rarely the center of attention. It’s sweet, sometimes boringly sweet, but with a squeeze of acid, a drizzle of fat, a sprinkle of herbs, and maybe even a little spice, cantaloupe can exude main character energy. Exhibit A: The cantaloupe sorbet at Homewood (full recipe here). When Texas melons came into season, Pastry Chef Maggie Huff constructed a refreshing, parfait-like dessert that highlights the cantaloupe’s versatility.

Cantaloupe Sorbet:
“Cantaloupe has a naturally velvety texture to begin with, so it’s beautifully showcased in a sorbet,” says Huff. She blends the melon into a purée, stirs it with simple syrup, and seasons it with lemon and salt. It’s made into a creamy, scoopable, bright orange sorbet. 

Shiso Labneh: 
Surrounding and sitting beneath the sorbet is a dramatic swoosh of tangy labneh infused with shiso. “Shiso has a bright freshness and we had mountains of it growing in our garden at the restaurant,” Huff says. The labneh, made from Homewood’s house-made yogurt, bringis on a slight acidic contrast to the cantaloupe’s signature sweetness. 

Basil Granita:
Right next to the shiso plant grows long stems of basil. Huff purées the leaves with simple syrup and shiso syrup (what grows together goes together!), lemon, and salt. The herbaceous mixture is frozen on a sheet pan then scraped into a crumble and spooned over the sorbet. “[The granita] adds texture and some more interesting complexity to the dish.”

Sourdough Breadcrumbs:
Huff sprinkles the dessert with a borderline-savory sourdough breadcrumb, bursting with black pepper. “A little black pepper elevates everything, in my opinion,” Huff says. Tossed with salt and a fruity, Texas-made Arbequina olive oil, the toasted breadcrumbs offer a second layer of crunch. 

Olive Oil:
“Fat is a good thing for desserts,” says Huff. “A lot of my desserts have finishing salts and olive oil added.” In this case, she gives the sorbet an additional drizzle of the Arbequina olive oil.

For a refreshing contrast in texture, Huff places diced honeydew around the sorbet. “It’s a play on textures because I think melon can be one-note,” she says. But all dressed up, Huff’s cantaloupe sorbet is the whole goddamn orchestra.

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