I’ve been feeling a little blue lately. It’s a barely perceptible, nondescript blue, like a bad color cast, which is the worst kind because it’s the hardest blue to define. I’m not quite sure exactly where it came from either. One day I looked around and it was just there. Every so often, a bunch of little things start to pile up on top of each other and the blue just sneaks in. I’m sure my recent “pot stirring” experience didn’t help. This blue is a tricky little sucker too. Depending on the direction of the light, it sometimes seems to disappear, and you think it’s moved on. But then, when you least expect it – poof – it’s back again, and your white balance goes all off.
There are only so many things you can do to ward off the “blue”. I already made homemade caramels last week, so my only other alternative was to bring out the big guns – chocolate. Did you know that chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, has mood enhancing qualities? It contains small amounts of phenylethylamine - a mood-regulating chemical naturally found in the brain. Chocolate has also been shown to boost serotonin levels – our brain’s own natural antidepressant – as well as endorphin levels. Endorphins are neurotransmitters produced in the brain, usually during some kind of physical exercise, which serve to reduce feelings of stress and pain, and can actually induce feelings of euphoria and well-being. Just a few bites of your favorite chocolate can help chase away your blue too.
Short of nibbling on an actual chocolate bar, I can think of few ways to replicate that pure, intensely chocolate flavor. The best I know is with this chocolate sorbet from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop. With no milk, cream or eggs to muddle things up, this sorbet is pure, unadulterated chocolate love. And, if that doesn’t make you happy, I don’t know what will.
First, scrounge around your kitchen for some deep, dark chocolate pieces – the darker the better. One great thing about this recipe is that you can mix and match leftover bits from other recipes.
You’ll also need some unsweetened cocoa powder. David recommends the Dutch-process kind. I don’t really know what difference it makes, but if David says to use it, I just do. He is the god of frozen desserts.
Mix the cocoa powder in a saucepan with sugar and a pinch of salt. We all know that a little salt enhances the sweet.
Add water and bring it to a boil.
After the cocoa mixture has boiled, take it off the heat and whisk in your lovely dark chocolate bits.
Add some more water and a splash of vanilla. Then, chill.
Anybody wanna lick the whisk?
Once the sorbet base is super chilled, pour it in your ice cream machine and churn, baby, churn!
I’m telling you, people, this chocolate sorbet is the stuff dreams are made of! It reminds me of that smooth, thick, dark, impossibly rich chocolate chaud, or drinking chocolate, that I slurped down all over Paris back in the day – only frozen. It has a lush, velvety texture that kind of lives on your tongue for a minute or two after melting. I swear I can actually feel those endorphins bubbling up and rushing through my body just thinking about it. Lucky for me, I still have a small container of sorbet in the freezer that accidentally got stashed underneath the frozen lima beans. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
You have got to make this one, people. It’s sinful, I tell you – absolutely sinful. And, the recipe is so easy. There’s no egg yolk tempering or cornstarch thickening or ice baths to worry about. Forget the “runner’s high”! A chocolate high is much more fun and requires no more exertion than moving your spoon from the bowl up to your mouth. Trust me. This indescribably delicious chocolate sorbet will not only chase away your “blue”, it will make you forget that it ever existed! I promise!
adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
2 1/4 cups (555 ml) water
1 cup (200 g) sugar
3/4 cup (75 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
6 ounces (170 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) of the water together with the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a large saucepan. Keep whisking as you bring to a boil. Continue boiling and whisking for about 45 seconds.
Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it’s melted. Then stir in the vanilla extract and the remaining 3/4 cup (180 ml) water. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend for 15 seconds. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If the mixture becomes too thick to pour, give it a few more vigorous whisks to thin it out.
Store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to serve.
Makes 1 quart.