Serious Eats: Sweets
A couple comments after last week's chocolate mousse post inspired me. It got me thinking about chocolate and water: two things you're usually warned to keep very, very separate.
But chocolate and water can be friends. Check out this video clip of a mousse-like substance being whipped up using JUST chocolate and water (thanks, withaph and IlTavoloBambini)! Mindblowing. I need to do some research on that for a future post, but then I thought about sorbet.
Since we're just officially getting into frozen treat weather, it seemed like the perfect thing.
So what makes a sorbet a sorbet? There are some grey areas in all these definitions, but here's what's generally understood as definitions of all three tasty treats:
It's a mixture of dairy, usually milk and/or cream; sweetener; and flavoring. Egg yolks are often involved, and it's frozen in a way that incorporates air into the mxture, lightening it somewhat. Perhaps another post is needed to distinguish the different styles and variations—gelato, frozen custard, etc.—but you know ice cream when you see it, right? So let's move on.
(Note: as defined in America; internationally it gets a little trickier.) It's typically fruit-flavored ice with some dairy. Here, sherbet legally must have a milkfat content of less than 3%—anything higher and it counts as ice cream. Sherbet may also contain eggs.
The use of the term "sorbet" seems to be unregulated by any food authority, but is generally understood that it contains no dairy at all—it's just water, sweetener, and flavoring. Most people (well, I do, anyway) think of fruit when they think of sorbet. After all, sorbets have generally been relegated to fruit flavors, since that's the easiest thing to put into a sorbet (and a great way to use up that tired-looking fruit you forgot about in your fridge). But more adventurous sorbets, involving spices, booze, and yes, chocolate, have been popping up in more and more mainstream arenas.
Even the big guys are doing it. Ciao Bella makes a really nice chocolate sorbet, as does Haagen-Dazs. In New York, il laboratorio de gelato can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned; and their chocolate sorbet is tops (they'll deliver, too!)
But, being your trusty chocolate blogger, I want to tell you how to make it at home. This is my friend Joan's recipe, and since Joan works in pastry, she knows what she's doing. She stresses that the ancho powder is completely optional, and you can save a step and the spicy kick by simply omitting it. This recipe is simple and delicious, two of my favorite things.