Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bittersweet Chocolate Sorbet

Oh yes, this dripping cone of chocolate heaven is SORBET. No cream, no milk, no egg yolks...but no skimping on the rich chocolate flavor. Oh no, no skimping. This is as pure as a frozen chocolate treat can get. Joanne Chang, the owner of a popular Boston bakery called Flour is responsible for this bittersweet chocolate sorbet recipe. She describes the taste perfectly: "It tastes like a frozen deep, dark chocolate bar." Oh, lordy I couldn't describe it better myself!

I was just in New York and discovered that there are some REALLY GOOD hot chocolates to drink out there. Like REALLY REALLY GOOD, especially when you dip a pretzel croissant into your hot chocolate. This sorbet tastes like the dark hot chocolates that I was drinking just a few weeks ago, but frozen.

I had some organic vegan ice cream cones on-hand that I used to make red velvet cupcake cones a short while ago, and these cones were a great way to enjoy this bittersweet chocolate sorbet (and the cones only have 25 calories, 0 fat, and 0 sugar!!!).

I do very much enjoy the process of making ice cream. I like the whole heat the milk, temper in the egg yolks, and pour into cold cream thing. But with this sorbet, I get to do the make a nice caramel, add some cocoa powder, and pour everything over chopped chocolate thing. I like this, too.

Chang provides a nice food-science explanation for using caramelized sugar instead of pure sugar in her bittersweet chocolate sorbet recipe:

"...caramelize the sugar before combining it with the sorbet base. Because there is no cream or milk in this recipe, it is a challenge to create a smooth, creamy texture. Caramelizing the sugar means you can use more sugar than you would normally (since straight sugar is pure sweet and the sweetness of the caramelized sugar is offset by its characteristic bitterness). The extra sugar-disguised-as-caramel helps to lower the freezing point of the sorbet base, which means it won't freeze solid. The result is a creamier, softer, not-icy treat."

Bittersweet Chocolate Sorbet

from Joanne Chang's book, Flour

makes about 1 quart

1 cup (200 grams) sugar

3 1/2 cups (840 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

4 ounces (114 grams) bittersweet chocolate (60-70 % cacao), finely chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Put the sugar in the bottom of a medium saucepan. Add 1/2 cup (120 grams) of the water and gently swirl the pan to moisten the sugar. Place the pan over high heat and leave it undisturbed until the contents come to a rolling boil. Then continue to boil rapidly without moving the pan until the sugar syrup starts to caramelize. This will take 3 to 4 minutes: the sugar syrup will boil furiously, then as it thickens it will boil more languidly, and then you will see some of the syrup start to color and darken around the edge of the pan.

When you see color in the pan, gently swirl it in a circular motion so the sugar caramelizes evenly, and then keep swirling gently until the caramel is a medium golden brown. Turn down the heat to low and slowly and carefully add the remaining 3 cups (720 grams) water. Be careful, because it will sputter and spatter when it hits the caramel. The caramel will harden at the bottom of the pan; turn up the heat to high, bring the mixture back to a boil, and whisk for a few minutes until the caramel fully dissolves. Then whisk in the cocoa powder until fully dissolved.

Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the hot caramelized liquid over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute, then whisk gently until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a container, and whisk in the vanilla and salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until cold.

Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Sorbet can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 week.

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