Ice cream and I were best buds right up through college. And then we did the fade out when I gradually realized that we were incompatible. Like a lot of dunzo relationships, I don’t really miss milk-based ice cream—there are so many other great treats out there. But I do miss is that creamy, cooling, rich-but-never-cloying sweetness that great ice cream delivers.I still remember this amazing vanilla ice cream from Radius in Boston. I tend to be all about chocolate, but there I learned that real, really great vanilla ice cream can trump just about anything else. When I was an extern there, I used to stand, spoon in hand, to sample it as soon as it came out of the ice cream spinner.
But now when friends want to meet for ice cream (and join some insane line to wait for a cone—Bi Rite, I’m looking at you) I scour dairy-free choices.
Besides being dairy-free, a great thing about sorbet is that it’s easier to make than ice cream. In her book Real Sweet, Shauna Sever mixes toasted almonds into this sorbet. For this version, I toasted pecans and kept them out as a topping. To add the nuts to the sorbet, stir them in before adding it to the ice cream maker. For a vegan version, buy vegan chocolate.
Makes 4 cups
Adapted from Shauna Sever's cookbook Real Sweet
- 2 1/4 cups almond milk
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown muscovado sugar (or dark brown sugar)
- 2/3 cup (67 grams) natural cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup cold coffee (optional)
1. Line a large bowl with a fine mesh strainer. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup almond milk and the cornstarch.
2. In a medium (4-quart) saucepan, bring the remaining almond milk, sugar, agave, and salt to a boil for 1 minute. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and boil for 1 more minute. Add the chocolate and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
3. Pour the chocolate base through the strainer and refrigerate until completely chilled, about 4 hours.
4. Once chilled, if the base looks thick (or you want to add a slight mocha edge), whisk in the coffee.
5. To freeze the sorbet, give the base a good whisk, then pour it into the ice cream machine and freeze until it looks like soft serve. Once frozen, transfer to a chilled container and freeze for 10 to 15 minutes more until firm but not rock hard. The sorbet is best when served the day it is frozen. If serving the next day, leave out at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.