[Chocolate sorbet fresh from the deep freeze -- note ice flecks - June 2012.]
Woke up today to more sun and brilliant blue skies, feeling the air coming in warm through the window screen. Thinking: The times to visit San Francisco: early-mid June; September; the first weekend of October; maybe late August if it’s a good year. I’ve lived here long enough now to know this. This is the kind of weather that makes you want to slough off work and head to the beach with a stack of magazines (Vogue and Vanity Fair are my guilty pleasures, though I do love my New Yorkers, too) and a book you’ve been wanting to read for awhile and lots of water and a cold bottle of Orangina. Maybe a bag of Kettle chips (another guilty pleasure). And then come home for a dinner of pizza and salad, with a big scoop of sorbet to finish.
I’ll take it.
I am not sure exactly why we decided to try to go vegan for the month of June – I think the idea was hatched over a post-work Friday pint, as most good ideas are. But once agreed-upon we committed to it, with admittedly a few slip-ups here and there (a cheese sandwich last weekend, a slice of wedding cake, a smidge of chocolate cake with salted caramel butter cream for me yesterday). As I mentioned, it’s not been too hard, really, even if I have longed occasionally for a piece of sharp cheddar or a generous helping of parmesan atop my pasta. We’re about half-way through what I’ve been calling The Vegan Experiment already (I’m going to tack on a couple extra days at the end of the month to make up for my occasional transgressions) and I’ve loved how it’s pushed me a bit to come up with new combinations of old favorites, to think outside my non-vegan box, to make more of an effort.
Enter chocolate sorbet. I’ve made sorbet and granita, which is sort of the lazy-man’s (by ‘lazy-man’ I mean ‘me’) sorbet, before, but only with fruit. A few summers ago I stripped my parents’ wee blackberry bush at the edge of their field and cooked the berries with a little sugar and then pureed with an immersion blender and stuck in the freezer for awhile. Insta-dessert. It was divine. Fruit seems tailor-made for sorbet, especially berries, and is a snap to put together. I’ve also heard of some sort of mythical ‘ice cream’ that can be made in three minutes by blending frozen bananas or frozen mangoes (or a mix?) in a food processor to create a very creamy, very dairy-free yet ice-cream-like dessert. This is on the ‘probably will do some day’ list.
So yes: fruit for sorbet but not chocolate.
In the spirit of the Vegan Experiment – and in the spirit of experimentation in general – I made those vegan chocolate chip cookies earlier in the week (a coworker’s comment: these are vegan? I actually think I like them better than the regular ones), but because I don’t really know how to relax and also because I saw a recipe for chocolate sorbet, I threw it together after my run the other night. And I really almost literally threw it together: the assembly took about 4 minutes, tops, basically as long as it took to boil water and melt chocolate chips. A few hours in the freezer yielded pure decadence, the ultimate chocolate (and vegan) dessert.
I would never call this ‘healthy’ but, boy, is it good. Fudgy and rich and just the thing for these nearly-summer warm days by the bay. I topped my little cup last night with the last of the cherry preserves and it was so! delicious. It’s hard to believe the recipe doesn’t call for cream or eggs – it tastes like it should – but it doesn’t. It’s a bit like having a square or two of dark chocolate after dinner; the perfect digestif — well, if you consider a non-alcoholic, creamily frozen dessert a digestif. Which I do.
David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Sorbet, from ‘The Perfect Scoop’ via Food52
Just to note: I didn’t use an ice-cream maker to freezer/churn this sorbet as mine is in a box stuffed way back on the highest shelf of my husband’s closet/art studio/baking pan storage area (gotta love small apartment living) and I just couldn’t bear to deal with disrupting the orderly chaos to access it. No matter! I poured the prepared mixture into a loaf pan, gave it a few good stirs, covered it with plastic wrap, and shoved it in the freezer. I probably should have stirred a few more times but it was late and I went to bed. The next night the whole thing was frozen solid: very sorbet-y looking, creamy even without the use of the ice-cream machine, and utterly, completely decadent and delicious. I recommend consuming slowly in small portions, to savor it but also not to overdo it.
Makes about 1 quart (1 liter)
2 1/4 cups (555 ml) water
1 cup (200 g) sugar
3/4 cup (75 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
6 ounces (170 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large saucepan, whisk together 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) of the water with the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Bring to a boil whisking frequently. Let it boil, continuing to whisk for 45 seconds.
Ask a question about this step
Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it’s melted, then stir in the vanilla extract and the remaining 3/4 cup (180 ml) water. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend for 15 seconds. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If the mixture has become too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.