Blackness is a much-romanticized trait.
What, don’t believe me? Think I’m being simplistic, sensationalist or crude? Then I point you to Black Betty, Black Beauty, Black Velvet, Black Swan, Orphan Black, Orange is the New Black …
(I don’t include the latest ABC sitcom black-ish because 1) I wasn’t sold on its merits based on the pilot, and 2) while I get what the title is trying to indicate, I think it’s laughably close to the word “brackish” and I can’t stop thinking of salt.)
I’d like to discuss a new metric for chocolate gelato: its blackness.
While in Italy last month, Deepak and I first discovered black gelato. Sure, Italy already brought us black pasta, black truffles and Robert De Niro (“Robert from the Black,” of course – not to be confused with Jenny from the Block, or Becky for that matter). But something about the image of scooting around Rome on a Vespa, obsidian snack in hand, is so romantic and modern.
So when we got home, I set out to make the darkest gelato possible. Presumably the key to achieving this hue is using as little milk as you can get away with, and of course throwing in the darkest chocolate possible (so blocks of baking or semi-sweet chocolate rather than Dutch-process cocoa).
I tried this recipe: Chocolate “Sherbet” from David Lebovitz. I trust Lebovitz recipes for ice cream and frozen treats blindly, and the photos made his results look sufficiently dark, so this was a no-brainer. He calls it a “sherbet” – an unappetizing word that I nearly loathe, since my predilection for dairy means eating a sherbet will be a *sure bet* that I will detest the dessert. Also, I skipped his recommendation of liqueur here – don’t want to gild the lily!
From David’s site:
Yield: About 3/4 quart (3/4l)
You can use either Dutch-process or natural cocoa powder, using a brand that you like. (I like Valrhona for the former, and Askinosie for the latter.) Since much of the flavor depends on the quality of the cocoa powder, use a top-quality brand that you like.
A little shot of coffee-flavored liqueur augments the taste and gives the sherbet a more scoop-able texture. Feel free to use another liqueur, or omit it.
2 cups (500ml) milk (whole, low, or non-fat)
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (50g) unsweetened cocoa powder
4 ounces (115g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
optional: 2 tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur, such as Kahluà
1. In a medium-sized saucepan, warm half of the milk with the sugar, salt, and cocoa powder.
2. Bring to a full boil while whisking, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30 seconds.
3. Remove from heat and add the chocolate, the vanilla, and the coffee-flavored liqueur, if using. Stir in the other half of the milk.
4. Taste, and if the chocolate is a bit grainy, puree it in a blender to smooth it out.
5. Chill thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Note: As mentioned, above, this would likely work with non-dairy milk, but be sure to use one that can be boiled.