There’s a certain math when it comes to frozen desserts. The math goes something like this: ice cream > sorbet. The logic for this has everything to do with decadence: ice cream has fat, sorbet traditionally doesn’t. You can blend a watermelon, add a little sugar syrup, and freeze that in an ice cream maker and that’s “sorbet.” It’s basically frozen, blended fruit. Ice cream involves warming cream, infusing egg yolks, adding lots of chopped naughty bits — chocolate, candied walnuts, cake crumbles — and churning that into something that feels like a real treat. Again, at the risk of repeating myself: ice cream > sorbet.
Imagine my shock and surprise, then, to make Melissa Clark’s Darkest Chocolate Sorbet from her new book, Dinner in French, only to discover that this frozen chocolate concoction of the sorbet variety was far to superior to any frozen chocolate dessert I’ve ever had. I’ll give you a moment to take that in.
What makes this chocolate sorbet so extraordinary? It has everything to do with the texture. To make it, you whisk cocoa powder, granulated sugar, and dark brown sugar into water and cook that until the sugar has dissolved. Then you pour that over chopped dark chocolate and wait until the chocolate melts. You stir in vanilla and refrigerate that until it’s ready to churn.
The result, after churning, is light because of the water — it makes refreshing, chocolate ice crystals that cool you down as you eat it — but then there’s that melted chocolate which makes everything so rich. The closest thing I can compare it to is the famous frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3 in New York (apparently, it was Andy Warhol’s favorite dessert).
Hot chocolate is a good thing to think about when contemplating this dessert because the best hot chocolate is made the same way: you stir cocoa powder into hot water (sometimes milk, but forget that) and then add chopped chocolate. So you could call this frozen hot chocolate sorbet or you could call it darkest chocolate sorbet or you could even, I bet, call it chocolate ice cream (even though it’s not) and your family would be fooled.
Whatever you call it, you simply have to make it. It’s the best dessert I’ve made all quarantine and I polished it off last night and I’m so sad that it’s gone, I may have to make it tonight. Stop me before I sorbet again.
Darkest Chocolate Sorbet
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder I use Valrhona (it's the best!)
- 8 ounces dark chocolate (at least 72% cacao), chopped Scharffen Berger bittersweet is my go-to.
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- In a medium pot, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and 2 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and whisk in the cocoa powder. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Pour the hot cocoa mixture on top. Let the mixture sit for 2 minutes to start melting the chocolate, then whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Stir in the vanilla. If you want a perfectly silky sorbet, use an immersion blender to briefly blend the mixture and get rid of any chocolate lumps. You can skip this step if you don't mind a bit of chocolate chip-like texture in your sorbet (I skipped this step!). Cover and chill for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
- Process the mixture in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Serve immediately or freeze until hard.
Other Worthy Chocolate Sorbets: