Ok, before I reveal exactly what it is I can’t stop eating, let me first address the fact that I’ve not yet written a Pick post for December. And the reality is staring me in the face: I’m skipping this month. If I could write about chocolate, I would have plenty to say. But since the monthly column is supposed to address a seasonal fruit or vegetable, and since all the activity of the holidays has me swimming in a pool of exhaustion, grumpiness, and overall lack of inspiration, I’ll just take the freedom I have as creator of this blog and say that I hope to be more inspired by produce in the month of January.
In the meantime, did someone mention chocolate? Oh, right, that was me. No, I’m not pregnant, but might as well be, judging by my recent fascination with this heavenly by-product of the cacao bean. A while back, I read a post at Chocolate & Zucchini that stuck in my mind. Clotilde wrote about her new ice cream maker, and described one of her first ventures in the art of frozen-dessert: chocolate sorbet. Skeptical? So was I. I just didn’t like the sound of it. As I was reading, and imagining an icy, weak, chocolate snow cone, the trusted author wrote something that stopped me dead in my tracks:
Chocolate ice cream is all right, I guess, but I find that the dairy gets in the way of the chocolate…
The thought had never occurred to me. The dairy gets in the way of the chocolate — of course! I’ve never been a huge chocolate ice cream fan, and never really could put my finger on a reason why. But I think it was because it just couldn’t be chocolate enough. So a sorbet (chocolate, sugar, and water) is the answer (insert cartoon lightbulb floating over my head).
In the few months since reading the post, I’ve frequently daydreamed about chocolate sorbet, and accordingly put at the top of my holiday gift list two items: an ice cream maker, and a copy of The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz (it’s his recipe she used). I was thrilled to receive both, so this week I broke in the new machine with the Lebovitz-prescribed combination of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate, Droste cocoa powder, sugar, water, and vanilla. The process is easy, but not necessarily quick: you cook the ingredients on the stovetop, and then must thoroughly chill the mixture before pouring into the machine. I was impatient, so I used an ice bath to chill it in about half an hour, then made dinner while the machine did its work. About 20 minutes into the churning, I could see the silky, creamy texture coming together. I couldn’t resist: I stuck a spoon into the top of the machine and scooped out a taste.
Really and truly: I could not believe how good it was. Totally not what I was expecting. It was smooth and thick, not icy at all, and delivered the kind of dark chocolate satisfaction that usually only comes from a really good truffle or bar. I reread the original post today, and see that the texture is helped a good bit by the butterfat content of the bittersweet chocolate. Even after a day in the freezer (in an airtight container, with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface of the sorbet) the texture is remarkably like ice cream.
If you are into frozen dessert, I heartily recommend the book, even after making just one recipe. The options are seemingly endless, and include some over-the-top combinations that I’m dying to try. My goal is to make every flavor in the book, and this could take several years — so if you’re coming for dinner anytime between now and the summer of ’09, you can take a good guess as to what’s for dessert.