Sometimes you just need a hug. Last week was pretty much like that except that people I needed to hug all live on the East Coast, near or in the city of Boston. There’s a lot to love about living in San Francisco but when tragic things happen, the distance between the coasts feel even bigger. It’s made me homesick for New England and wishing I could find a better way to show people out there how much I love them. So this chocolate sorbet will have to do. After all, food is an expression of love. This is my love letter to Boston.
This sorbet is for you.
But before I raise your expectations: this is not chocolate ice cream. I’m not actually a big fan of that, mostly because I don’t think chocolate ice cream really tastes like chocolate. All the dairy gets in the way and what you end up with is this muddled milky chocolatey flavor which is just not as good as the real stuff. If I’m eating chocolate I want it to be dark and rich; I want to good stuff. You probably do too, right? This is the good stuff. It’s essentially a mix of hot chocolate and actual chocolate, melted together and frozen into someone scoopable. It’s for people who wish chocolate ice cream tasted more like chocolate.
There’s an amazing local chocolate maker in San Francisco called Tcho and when I made this sorbet this time around, I was inspired by my favorite of their chocolates. It’s a “citrus” flavored one but without lemon. Their chocolate is pure cacao and sugar with the flavor coming from the beans themselves. I used actual lemon but the point is the same: chocolate and lemon make a wonderful pairing. I’m sure you know about chocolate and coffee, chocolate and nuts, chocolate and berries, even chocolate and orange. The lemon is just as good albeit less well known when used sparingly. The citrusy tang with the fruitiness of good chocolate – it’s a whole new thing and a delicious one at that.
Chocolate is a good thing and this sorbet is certainly a good way to say “I love you” – although the words themselves are just as good. It’s not a cure-all but it’s still a little salve for what ails you. A sweet pick me up after a hard week. As much as I’d like to, I can’t reach through the screen and share this with you. But if I could I’d be at the front door, with open arms. And a pint full of ice cream.
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop, by David Leibovitz
Makes about a quart of sorbet
Lemon and chocolate is my thing but maybe yours is nuts and chocolate, in which case substitute almond extract for the lemon. Or maybe you like berries so use a spoonful of jam. What about coffee? Add a teaspoon of espresso powder to the second batch of water.
Sorbet doesn’t have as much fat as ice cream and it has more water which means it freezes harder than ice cream will. You might want to let it sit out for a few minutes before scooping it.
2 cups water, divided
2/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
6 oz bittersweet or dark chocolate, finely chopped *
Zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp lemon flavor
In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups water, white sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Put the pan over medium-high heat and bring the ingredients to a boil. Let it boil for about a minute, whisking continuously, until everything is melted. Then remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Continue to whisk until the chocolate is melted.
Add the remaining 1/2 cup water, the lemon juice, zest, and lemon flavor to the chocolate and stir to combine. Then chill the mixture thoroughly before freezing it in your ice cream maker. Alternatively you could pour the chocolate sorbet base into ice cube molds or other small containers and freeze it, then put the small amount of frozen sorbet into a food processor and process until smooth. It won’t get rid of all the ice crystals but it isn’t a bad way to make sorbet or ice cream without an ice cream maker.
To prevent the finished sorbet from getting freezer burned, put a piece of parchment over the sorbet in the container so that it isn’t exposed to air. It should keep in the freezer for at least a month, if it lasts that long.
*Chocolate chips often have stabilizers in them to help them hold their shape after baking so I wouldn’t recommend using them here. Get a good bar of chocolate and chop it up.