A couple of years ago at Sip Restaurant the guys ordered chocolate orange habanero ice cream and pronounced it divine. I can’t eat oranges so I couldn’t try it, but they’ve been talking about how good that ice cream was ever since. I decided to create a sorbet version, and with my husband taking over the prep once we reached the step of squeezing the oranges, we did it! It was strange to have to rely on him as taste-tester.
I served this to our family and a dinner guest over the weekend. It uses all cocoa unlike some chocolate sorbet recipes which also use chocolate. I worried it might taste too ‘light,’ but the texture was nice and smooth and it tasted very creamy (so they tell me!). No one could believe it had no dairy or other added fat. Chocolate was the dominant flavor, with some orange-iness and the jalapeno (which I substituted for habanero) brightening the taste and making it linger a little.
Since cocoa is the healthiest part of chocolate this is actually a pretty healthy recipe. I chose a fair trade, organic brand of cocoa powder (Rapunzel) to avoid the chance of buying chocolate produced with child slave labor. Other choices are listed on this page about slave-free chocolate .
I used coconut palm sugar, an unrefined, low-glycemic index sugar. It has a yummy caramel flavor that I thought would go well with chocolate. Good substitutes would be Sucanat (though make sure it melts fully, it is harder to get Sucanat to melt than other sugars), regular palm sugar, jaggery, or light muscovado sugar.
The chocolate sorbet recipe from Alice Medrich’s excellent Pure Dessert was my best reference, though the only thing that ended up the same was her method of starting out by stirring the cocoa, sugar, and salt in the pan with a little boiling water to make a paste, then adding the rest of the water. I learned from The Perfect Pantry and David Lebovitz that this process is called blooming the cocoa and helps fully release the flavor of the cocoa powder. After you’ve bloomed the cocoa, the mixture needs to cool back down before it’s ready to be combined with the other ingredients and churned into sorbet. That’s the most time-consuming part of this recipe.
I’ll make chocolate sorbet again soon, next time a flavor I can eat. Chocolate almond, chocolate raspberry, or chocolate hazelnut are among the contenders, though plain chocolate with a strong dose of espresso would be good, too. I look forward to turning some of the ideas in that sentence into live links to my latest healthy recipe post!
Here’s the recipe. I used a jalapeno– choose that for a bare hint of heat in the sorbet or go for the much more assertive habanero. The recipe makes 4 cups, plenty for leftovers.
This works in an ice cream maker, but if you don’t have an ice cream maker it can be made in other ways. You could freeze it in cubes and then blend it in a high-speed blender. Or freeze it in shallow baking dishes, stirring once every 45 minutes or so to help the consistency.
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1.5 cups coconut palm sugar or other unrefined sugar such as Sucanat (something with a caramel-y flavor)
- pinch of salt
- 3 cups boiling water
- ½ tsp. vanilla
- juice of 4 blood oranges
- grated rind of 2 blood oranges
- 1 jalapeno pepper (or 1 habanero pepper)
- 2 Tbs. light rum (optional) or 1 pasteurized egg white
- Add the cocoa, sugar, and salt to a large saucepan.
- Add ½ cup of the boiling water and whisk the ingredients together.
- Whisk in the rest of the water.
- Heat over a medium flame, stirring, just until small bubbles begin to form where the hot cocoa meets the edges of the pan.
- Do not let the cocoa come to a full boil. Too much exposure to heat can give it a harsh flavor.
- Take the pan off the heat.
- Add the vanilla and rum to the cocoa mixture.
- The rum adds flavor but keeps the sorbet from freezing too hard. If you omit it, you can use a raw egg white instead. Use a pasteurized egg or boxed egg white for food safety.
- Let the cocoa mixture cool completely. This will take several hours in the refrigerator, or less in a freezer.
- Grate the rind from two of the blood oranges.
- Squeeze four blood oranges.
- Cut jalapeno in half, remove seeds, mince.
- Add orange juice, orange rind, and jalapeno to blender. Blend until smooth.
- Freeze in ice cream maker.