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adventures of a half-chinese yalie in hollywood

Black Beauty: My Quest to Make the Darkest Chocolate Gelato

Black Beauty: My Quest to Make the Darkest Chocolate Gelato

Blackness is a much-romanticized trait.

Black -- like the volcanic effluvia of Hawaii, or our souls. Here we are, climbing lava on the Big Island, possibly illicitly. *Soon to be arraigned on basalt charges*
Black — like the volcanic effluvia of Hawaii, or our souls. Here we are, climbing lava on the Big Island, possibly illicitly. *Soon to be arraigned on basalt charges*
Here we are at the Royal Hawaiian - actually, it looks like I've swung the other way and gone Charlie Chaplin-white-face with the flash here. Perhaps it's time to switch away from the foundation shade of "Casper in February"
Here we are at the Royal Hawaiian – actually, it looks like I’ve swung the other way and gone Charlie Chaplin-white-face with the flash here. Perhaps it’s time to switch away from the foundation shade of “Casper in February”
The secret weapon of my attempts to make midnight black chocolate gelato: start dark!
The secret weapon of my attempts to make midnight black chocolate gelato: start dark!

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.)

Ground down. Goin' to town!
Ground down. Goin’ to town!

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).

Not sure how long our gelato habit will be compatible with this, though (He is doing a pull-up w/ a 50-lb. dumbbell between his feet. Terms for this include "enhancing the pull-up" and/or "completely showing off")
Not sure how long our gelato habit will be compatible with this, though (He is doing a pull-up w/ a 50-lb. dumbbell between his feet. Terms for this include “enhancing the pull-up” and/or “completely showing off”)

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.

Multiple milks, but nothing compared to the irritation of tempering eggs
Multiple milks, but nothing compared to the irritation of tempering eggs
Too pale once milk was added. I thought once you went black ...?
Too pale once milk was added. I thought once you went black …?
Meanwhile, off to the side another mix. *"Ebony & Ivory "plays softly in background*
Meanwhile, off to the side another mix. *”Ebony & Ivory “plays softly in background*
The combo of both milk/chocolate mixes. That's more like it! (I'm convinced that the really black chocolate gelatos in Italy have some cheater dyes!)
The combo of both milk/chocolate mixes. That’s more like it! (I’m convinced that the really black chocolate gelatos in Italy have some cheater dyes!)
And this is basically it for my efforts, besides listening for my Breville to play "Camptown Races" (the song I chose for the alarm) and eventual cleanup
And this is basically it for my efforts, besides listening for my Breville to play “Camptown Races” (the song I chose for the alarm) and eventual cleanup
In one sec we'll be off to the (Camptown) races
In one sec we’ll be off to the (Camptown) races
The process is touchless and fully automated; however, Rome was NOT built in a day (this is @ minute 102 of what took about 140 minutes all told)
The process is touchless and fully automated; however, Rome was NOT built in a day (this is @ minute 102 of what took about 140 minutes all told)
Done! Pulling the paddle out
Done! Pulling the paddle out
Finished! And we wolfed it, too, in 2 days flat
Finished! And we wolfed it, too, in 2 days flat
Would we (shown here in Capri) have Capri-ciated these final results? I like to think so.
Would we (shown here in Capri) have Capri-ciated these final results? I like to think so.
My next adventure: I tackle Deepak's favorite flavor, pistachio, using authentic Sicilian pistachio paste!
My next adventure: I tackle Deepak’s favorite flavor, pistachio, using authentic Sicilian pistachio paste!
There's NO TURNING BACK NOW. (Deepak, helpfully, after I had splurged on this: "I don't think you should have bought this. I don't want to eat a $30 gelato.")
There’s NO TURNING BACK NOW. Deepak, helpfully, after I had splurged on this: “I don’t think you should have bought this. I don’t want to eat a $30 gelato.”

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