Rich and smooth, this spiced chocolate sorbet is a chocolate lovers dream dessert. It’s easy to make with just a few ingredients. And because it’s a sorbet, it’s dairy-free for your dairy-sensitive friends and family. It’s my go-to chocolate “ice cream” recipe, always enjoyed with rave reviews and cleanly–licked bowls.
Spiced Chocolate Sorbet
When a cookbook automatically opens to a certain page, you know that recipe is often made and well loved. Such is page 120 in my copy of The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz . I adapted David’s recipe for chocolate sorbet by adding espresso powder and Chinese Five Spice for a fantastic, frozen, chocolately treat.
With a simple ingredient list and good quality chocolate in the pantry, the base for this sorbet takes just minutes to make. It’s easy to make because there is no tricky custard base to prepare. Just bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder, organic cane sugar (or reduce the sugar with stevia), water, vanilla and my extras of espresso powder and spices
Discovering Chocolate Sorbet
I first encountered chocolate sorbet while apprenticing in a restaurant kitchen. The pastry station made a rich tasting chocolate “ice cream” I was surprised to find was really a sorbet. Technically a sorbet is made without dairy, so no milk or cream as with ice cream or gelato. As bittersweet chocolate is dairy free, it’s a real treat for people with dairy sensitivities.
Although I love making homemade ice cream, I never tried to recreate it at home…until I discovered this recipe. We were totally surprised at the deep, pure bittersweet chocolate flavor and smooth texture. I made it for a friend who is dairy allergic and he was thrilled.
The base comes together quickly, followed by a chill down in an ice bath and chilling in the refrigerator until cold. Finally, process in your ice cream maker and allow it to firm up in the freezer.
Tips on Making the Base
When cooking the base, be sure to use a large pan, at least 5 quarts for a single batch. When you combine the water, cocoa and sugar (or stevia) you bring it to a boil for 45 seconds.
When it boils, the chocolate base bubbles fiercely and rises quickly in the pan. Keep whisking. You do not want it to boil over. If it starts to get away from you, remove the pan from the heat briefly, keep whisking, and it will calm down. With a large enough pan you should not have a problem.
This is a recipe that calls for high quality bittersweet chocolate (70%). My favorites are Theo, Valhrona, Scharffen Berger, or Guittard.
While you can buy these brands at many stores, I often stock up and buy a few pounds at once. Chocolate stored in a cool pantry, well wrapped, lasts a long time. To order in quantity, or if good chocolate is not available where you live, shop online at Chocosphere. It’s a wonderful resource for chocolate.
For cocoa powder, use natural raw cocoa powder. Good options include Penzeys high butterfat natural cocoa powder with a strong dark chocolate flavor, or find organic raw unsweetened cocoa powders on Amazon.
In terms of my flavor additions, Chinese Five Spice is a blend of cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger and clove. Experimenting with it years ago I found it has a great affinity for chocolate. You can use just cinnamon as well. Adding espresso powder accents the rich flavor of chocolate with no coffee flavor. It’s available in most grocery stores and online.
How to Reduce or Eliminate Sugar
If you want to reduce sugar in your diet, try using stevia. Stevia comes from an herb so it’s natural. To make this sorbet I use 1/2 cup of natural organic sugar and two droppers full of the chocolate flavored liquid stevia made by Sweet Leaf. It’s available at many stores and online. You can also use a granular stevia. Choose a good quality brand that does not add a lot of fillers, such as organic Stevia Select.
If you don’t have a digital kitchen scale, I highly recommend you get one. It’s a tool I could not live without. Weighing ingredients is always more accurate. You will also need an ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, here is your excuse to buy one.
No ice cream maker? No problem! Here are six ways you can make ice cream without a machine, from The Kitchn.
Spiced Chocolate Sorbet with Espresso
- 2 ¼ cups water divided use
- 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
- ¾ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 6 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate, 72%-85% chopped fine
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder optional
- ½ teaspoon Chinese Five Spice or cinnamon
- 2 droppers chocolate flavored liquid stevia
- First prepare an ice bath in either a large bowl or the sink. Fill a large bowl about half full of ice and cold water and set aside. Or, if you have a double sink, plug and fill the small side with ice and cold water as your ice bath. Measure out all ingredients, chop your chocolate and set aside. The cooking goes quickly.
- In a large saucepan (5 quarts), whisk together 1½ cups of water, sugar, cocoa powder and salt until smooth. Place the pan over medium high heat and bring to a boil, whisking. Do not walk away from the pan as the mixture boils up and expands rapidly while cooking. Boil and whisk for 45 seconds then remove the pan from the heat. Immediately stir in the chocolate, vanilla, espresso and five spice, and if using, the chocolate stevia drops. Whisk until smooth.
- Stir in the balance of the water (3/4 cup). Pour into a stainless steel bowl and place in the ice water bath. Stir occasionally until completely cool, then cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least an hour.
- Pour chocolate base into your ice cream maker and process according to manufacturers directions. It will be soft when finished. Freeze for several hours to firm up, then serve.