Texas summers are relentless. Every one is the same. You start out optimistically thinking of swimming and running through sprinklers and cooling off with popsicles. Then the consecutive triple digit days roll in and all of those shiny, summery thoughts crumble in the baking, hot sun.
The kids are cooped up inside for far too many hours of the day. Even just hopping in the car for a spontaneous outing becomes a chore, making sure the children don’t burn themselves on seat belts and trying to keep them from following you to the car while you insist that you’re just starting it to cool it off and really, really, really it’s too hot to get inside right now. No really, I know you say you don’t care, but trust me, YOU DO! Ok, fine, just get in.
“Mom, it’s too hot! I can’t buckle! Is the A/C on full blast???”
Ugh. Texas summers. One advantage to being cooped up inside is that I spend some extra hours in the kitchen. Tinkering with recipes, exploring new culinary creations, and making special treats that I normally wouldn’t bother with. Last week, I felt entirely deflated by my deflated flop of a sourdough starter (don’t worry – I eventually achieved success!) and needed a major kitchen victory to lift my spirits.
I remembered this David Lebovitz recipe that I had pinned ages ago and never got around to making.
At the beginning of this summer, I very wisely invested in this adorable red Cuisinart ice cream maker. Allow me a moment to wax poetic about it. Just indulge me here. Aside from being so aesthetically pleasing, this beauty is so much quieter than the monsters from my childhood. Now – I said “quieter” – not quiet, per se, but quiet enough that I’ll let it run inside my kitchen instead of banishing it to the back porch like the ice cream makers of old. Second-of-ly, NO ICE OR ROCK SALT NEEDED. (I feel very strongly about this. I don’t know why, but this was a huge deal to me. The bucket stays in my freezer and whenever the I-need-to-make-ice-cream mood strikes, I pull it out and go!) Lastly, this baby gets down to business. She knows how serious frozen desserts are and she’s not wasting anybody’s time. Within 15 minutes, you’ll hit milkshake consistency and by 20-25 minutes, you’ve got soft serve. If you want a fully firmed ice cream, you’ve got to transfer it to the freezer for a couple of hours but we have enjoyed many a batch straight from the bucket with no complaints.
Back to the recipe. I was intrigued when I saw it because it was a sorbet – not an ice cream or a gelato – so there was no cream or milk or eggs called for. But I’m a sucker for dark chocolate and it looked ridiculously delicious. More importantly, it had a short ingredient list full of items we keep on hand regularly.
Sugar. Water. Cocoa powder. Salt. Vanilla. Some form of solid chocolate to melt. That’s it. Other than the obvious advantages, I love a simple recipe because it gives me lots of room to play. It’s easy to see what role each ingredient is playing in the end product and therefore it’s easy to substitute for subtle flavor adaptations. With any kind of frozen dessert – you’re basically juggling fat and sugar contents in order to maintain that scoopable texture while achieving the taste you’re after.
The first time, I added mint extract instead of vanilla for a peppermint patty sorbet. The second time, I used peanut butter in place of the bittersweet chocolate (since they shared a similar fat content) for a peanut butter cup flavor. And there’s a milk chocolate hazelnut bar in my pantry just begging for a chance to step up to the plate.
I also plan to make a batch replacing some of the water with strong, cold brewed coffee. And I picked up some butterscotch morsels that will probably find their way into this recipe before summers’ end.
So start your ice cream makers and get a batch of this started asap!