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Chocolate Cassis Sorbet

I have a confession to make: I like chocolate sorbet better than chocolate ice cream.

There is a darling little chocolate cafe near my apartment called The Chocolate Room. Every time we go there, we are given a tiny dish of unbelievable Valhrona sorbet as a mise en bouche which always ends up surpassing whatever we have ordered that day. We finally got a bit fed up with this (not that we’ll stop going back!) and decided to go home and figure out how to make our own.

Alice Medrich, author of Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate (my favorite chocolate cookbook), wrote that “the flavor of chocolate is truest when it is not mixed with dairy products.” She makes some of her chocolate mousses with water instead of milk or cream to get a deep chocolate flavor that dairy-based mousses simply cannot achieve. This sorbet does not come from a recipe of hers, but she did give us the courage to proceed the way we did.

Anyone who works with chocolate has had it seize. A drop of water gets into your chocolate from dripping condensation or a splashing double boiler, or you pour in a bit of cold cream thinking to thin your ganache, and suddenly your smooth, liquid chocolate has become a grainy, hardened mass. It can be tragic, as seized chocolate is useless for most any sort of chocolate artistry. So we become afraid of adding cold liquids, or any water at all, lest we waste a batch of chocolate.

It turns out that if you add enough water, and hot enough water, your chocolate will not seize.

This sorbet has a clean, pure, intense chocolate flavor that no ice cream can match. Without any dairy to muddle the flavors, the impact of the cold chocolate is incredibly sharp. It is direct. There is no nonsense to it. Be sure to use the highest quality chocolate you can find, because every nuance of flavor will come through.

Try making several batches with different flavored liquors and serving them together for the taste equivalent of seeing many different colors of black. My personal favorites are frangelico and cassis.

Chocolate Cassis Sorbet
3/4 lb. chocolate
2 1/2 C water
3/8 C sugar
1/8 C cassis

Chop the chocolate into small pieces, and place in a bowl with the sugar and cassis. Heat the water to boiling and pour over the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate melts and it and the sugar dissolve. Chill as much as you can before placing in your ice cream maker – a short bout in the freezer in advance may be necessary. If it’s still a bit too liquidy once the ice cream maker has done its work, don’t panic. It will be just right after a few hours in the freezer in the end.

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7 Responses to “Chocolate Cassis Sorbet”

  1. Anita says:

    I remember Alice’s book being a real eye-opener in terms of understanding chocolate and how to work with it. I think one reason I never liked chocolate ice cream much was that it was too diluted by other products, but I never realized that until I read her book. Your concoction looks lovely, and I love the ideas for other flavorings!

  2. This looks SO good! I am more of a sorbet person as well,
    generally speaking! I will have to try!

  3. Ivonne says:

    Wow! I admire your creative spirit and sorbet prowess. Well done! Now can I have some???

  4. Danielle says:

    Anita – I learned more about chocolate from reading her book than I had in years of fooling around with it in the kitchen beforehand. I’m just dying to get my hands on her other books now.

    Bea – Thank you! Yes, do try it, and let me know how you like it!

    Ivonne – Whenever you’re in NYC, I will gladly ply you with sorbets.

  5. Tanna says:

    I’m impressed. I have to check out the Alice Medrich book.
    Great photo.

  6. Andreas says:

    Thank you, but what kind of chocolate did you use?

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June 2006
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