28 August 2007
Day 17: Chocolate Sorbet
Despite not being much of a chocolate fan, I am endlessly captivated by cocoa powder. Did you know that if you heat cocoa powder and water in a saucepan it will thicken up much like pudding? The natural properties of cocoa give it great thickening power and also lend a wonderful tenderness to baked goods like cakes and cookies and a smooth mouthfeel to ice creams and gelatos.
P., who is much more of a chocolate-eater than I am (I find this role-reversal rather disconcerting), for a period took to pointing out when I did enjoy chocolate desserts, and we found that they were all of the cocoa-powder variety: silky chocolate pudding, tender chocolate shortbreads, and a wonderful cocoa Bundt cake. Freed from the heft of cocoa butter, I find that desserts made with cocoa powder take on an even more intense chocolate flavor, and are satiating without being overly rich.
All these principles exhibit themselves splendidly in chocolate sorbet. Despite the lack of dairy, and only the tiniest bit of chocolate, this is a wonderfully smooth frozen dessert that will defy you to define it as sorbet. Made primarily with cocoa powder, each mouthful packs intense chocolate flavor (and very little caloric heft). I cannot think of any better way to serve this than with a big bowl of sugared raspberries, but it’s full flavor pairs well with a multitude of desserts, from cake to tarts to my favorite beet ice cream. And I’m sure it won’t surprise you all that I actually like this even more than those rich chocolate ice creams.
Smooth and full of intense chocolate flavor, this will redefine your concept of sorbet. Also, because it is wheat and dairy free it’s good choice for people with food allergies. A handful of cocoa nibs is a nice addition.
2 1/3 cups water
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup good quality cocoa powder
3 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tbl instant espresso powder (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Place the cocoa powder and sugar in a saucepan. Slowly add the water in a stream, whisking until there are no lumps. Place the pan on the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. When it has come to a full boil, lower the heat slightly and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
2. Remove from the heat and immediately add the chopped chocolate and espresso powder. Stir with a whisk until the chocolate is melted and combined (you can also put the mixture into a blender and blitz). Add the vanilla, cover, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (at least 3 hours).
3. Give the mixture a good stir, then churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Store in the freezer.
Mexican Chocolate: Use Ibarra chocolate and add 1 tsp cinnamon.
Espresso-Chocolate: Use coffee in place of water, add chopped chocolate-covered coffee beans.
Aztec Chocolate: Add 1/2 tsp red pepper.
Chocolate Mint: add a splash of Creme de Menthe or a drop of peppermint extract.
Chocolate Coconut: Use coconut milk in place of the water, add 1/2 tsp coconut extract.