With a new ice-cream machine sitting in the corner, it was just a matter of time before I got round to making something with chocolate.
The thing is, that I don’t really like thick, creamy frozen desserts. When it is warm, I prefer something light, bright and clean-tasting. So how to do this with chocolate? Surely this ingredient is the essence of all things heavy and rich?
Well, I have recently tried a few different recipes recently which have taught me quite lot – a champagne sorbet worked well, and the strawberry sorbet was stunning. I also turned my hand to pistachio. The first attempt (a Nigel Slater recipe, which is usually a good sign) used an egg-based custard made with double cream. The result was, to my palate, not very nice. It was thick, like eating frozen over-whipped cream, with nay a hint of pistachio. To heavy, too rich, too much egg. Just too much of everything.
My second attempt was much simpler, a gelato recipe from David Leibowitz via Chocolate & Zucchini (see the C&Z variation, see here). Rather than all those rich ingredients, this used milk thickened with just a little cornflour. The result was great – might lighter, a more fluid custard, and once it was frozen, it had just a hint of “creaminess” from the milk but without all that weight. I also like that when it melts, it becomes a liquid, rather than staying like a thick, soft cream. Just my preference!
All this practicing has taught me that I prefer and should therefore stick to these “lighter” recipes – either sorbets, or what the Americans call “sherbets”. I like that the Americans have an extra category between sorbet and ice-cream. What makes a sherbet a sherbet and not a sorbet is the addition of a small amount of dairy (some light milk or a shot of cream). Thus, all along, I had chocolate sherbet in my mind, so I was quite happy when I managed to track down this recipe from David. Now I just need to convert my friends in London over to using this term, which is likely to be a source of further confusion as sherbet here means a fizzy powder sweet.
To make this sherbet, I decided I did not want to leave the house, so I went with the chocolate I happened to have in the cupboard, a bar of fleur de cocoa dark chocolate from Pierre Marcolini, plus a jar of pure dark chocolate shavings he sells for use in drinking chocolate. If this recipe was going to showcase the flavour of the chocolate, it made perfect sense for me to use the very best I had. I also used good Dutch cocoa powder to complement the chocolate.
As always, the need to make tweaks to the recipe overtook me, so rather than just using white sugar, I added muscovado – this lends the finished produce a more interesting flavour, with caramel notes coming through rather than just pure sweetness, just helping to round out the taste.
The base itself look and smelled wonderful. Rich aromas, and a glossy deep brown chestnut colour. Some might be tempted to drink the lot with a straw or pour directly down their throat, but as it was pushing 28°C here, that temptation was not really an issue for me. I chilled it, froze it, and tried it.
First time round, I let the mixture cool on the stove, then moved it to the fridge to chill it before freezing. This worked, but during the chilling process, the mixture “separated” a little, so tiny particles of chocolate formed. Tiny, but you could feel them on your tongue. I sensed this was not right, so I put the lot back on a saucepan, heated it again, but this time put it straight into the ice-cream machine. Result? A perfectly smooth scoop which gave me a little tingle of excitement.
In my view, this is one of the best chocolate ice-creams that I have ever had. I think too often chocolate seems like vanilla flavoured with cocoa powder, or it is too creamy, or the flavour is too weak. Not an issue here. Beautiful colour and intense taste, and just perfect for the hot weather. Result? Result!
For 3/4 litre of chocolate ice-cream:
• 500ml semi-skimmed milk
• 100g muscovado sugar
• pinch of salt
• 50g cocoa powder
• 115g dark chocolate, very finely chopped
• 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 tablespoon white rum
Place 250ml of milk, the sugar, salt and cocoa powder in a saucepan. Heat slowly, whisking all the time, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 seconds.
Turn off the heat. Add the chocolate, mix well until the chocolate has melted, then add the rest of the milk, the vanilla and the rum and stir well.
Pour the mixture into the ice-cream machine and freeze.
Worth making? This ice-cream recipe is both very easy and very delicious. Perfect for those that want their chocolate fix even in hot weather, as well as for those that like to enjoy cool things on hot days. I will make this again, and again and again this summer. Wonderful!