August 21, 2007
So. Batch #1 in my brand new ice cream machine was dedicated to Maxence, in gratitude for such an exciting, perfectly tailored, and all-around thoughtful gift.
But when the time came to make batch #2 -- that is, the next day, as soon as the bowl had had time to refreeze -- I decided I had paid my dues, and I could now make my favorite, which, you may be un-surprised to learn, is the dark chocolate sorbet.
Chocolate ice cream is all right, I guess*, but I find that the dairy gets in the way of the chocolate. A good sorbet, on the other hand, made with just chocolate, water, and sugar, delivers the sort of undiluted chocolate punch I hunger for, of which one only needs a small amount -- the frozen equivalent of the square of extra-dark, extra-smooth chocolate the doctors prescribe you place on your tongue to melt, each day after lunch.
David's Perfect Scoop rose to the challenge once again, providing me with an easy six-ingredient recipe (and one of them is water), which I easified even further by not running the mixture through the blender. It seemed blended enough to me. And because I am the only one, in my household of two, to be bound by the spell of ebony chocolate -- my other half only eats milk or (gasp!) white chocolate -- I divided the recipe by two.
The ice cream churning process seems nothing short of magical, I know, but when it comes to the flavor of your sorbet, it's just you and the ingredients, pal: this sort of preparation can only be as good as the chocolate you put into it. I, however, would be hard pressed to tell you what went into mine, for I took the opportunity to scrape together and use a variety of odds and ends** from almost-but-not-quite-entirely eaten tablets in my chocolate stash.
Martine Lambert's chocolate sorbet is the gold standard by which I judge all chocolate sorbets, and although I wouldn't be so presumptuous as to say mine rivalled hers, I don't think Martine would have scoffed at it, either. (Not to my face anyway.)
My sorbet was splendid as it was, but my next batch will involve, I think, a handful of cacao nibs thrown in as the mixture thickens. An interesting thing to note is that the flavors kept blooming over the next few days -- just like those of a dark chocolate cake will -- and that the texture remained perfectly smooth. This can be explained, I imagine, by the cocoa butter in the chocolate***.
Needless to say, my dark chocolate sorbet went terrifically well with Maxence's mango sorbet.
* Oh my god, did she just say, "Chocolate ice cream is all right I guess"? Nurse!
** In my family we call those rataillons, as in: "Il reste du fromage?" "Bof, juste des rataillons." It is a regional expression, from Provence I am told, so sometimes I use it and people look at me funny.
*** On the subject of texture, I will add that placing a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream or sorbet efficiently prevents the formation of ice crystals.
Sorbet Chocolat Noir
275 mL (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) water
40g (1/3 cup, packed) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
100g (1/2 cup) sugar
85g (3 ounces) bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped as finely as your patience allows
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
Makes about 1/2 liter (1/2 quart); the recipe can be doubled.
Pre-freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker as instructed by your friend the manufacturer.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the water, cocoa powder, and sugar. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking continually. Remove from heat, and add the chopped chocolate. Let rest for 30 seconds as the chocolate begins to melt, add the vanilla and salt, then stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Let cool on the counter, then refrigerate until chilled.
Whisk the mixture again just before using, and freeze using your ice cream maker.
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz.
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