Yield : 4 to 6 scoops
Combine the following in a medium-sized saucepan:
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa; our All-Purpose Baking Cocoa is a good choice
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional, for enhanced chocolate flavor
1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
2 1/4 cups water
Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until the chips and sugar are dissolved.
Remove from the heat, and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 tablespoons Kahlua or vodka. The alcohol is optional, but will prevent the sorbet form becoming rock-hard in the freezer. If you prefer not to use it, just make sure to remove the sorbet from the freezer about 20 minutes before you want to serve it, to soften.
Transfer the mixture to a heatproof bowl, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled; overnight is best.
Start making the sorbet at least 4 hours before you want to serve it. Pour the chocolate into the freezer bowl of your ice cream maker, and freeze for 25 minutes or so.
Can you make this without an ice cream maker? Yes, you can; it will taste the same, but will be crunchy/granular rather than smooth. See instructions at the end of this post.
After 20 to 25 minutes, the sorbet will still be quite soft; that’s just fine.
Transfer to a storage container, and freeze for several hours before serving, to firm up.
To make sorbet without an ice cream maker: Make the chocolate mixture, but omit the alcohol. Place the mixture in a shallow pan; an 8″ x 8″ square pan or 9″ round cake pan are both good choices. Place the pan in the freezer. There’s no need to cover it.
After 2 hours, use a fork or spoon to stir it around, bringing the frozen edges into the center. Return to the freezer.
Continue to stir every hour or so, until the sorbet is nearly as firm as you like. This may be as little as 4 hours total, start to finish; or it may take longer, depending on the temperature of your freezer.
Once the sorbet is entirely icy (like a slush drink), add the alcohol, if you’re using it. Rather than add the alcohol while the sorbet is still in its shallow pan, transfer the sorbet to a lidded storage bowl. Stir in the alcohol, then cover the bowl and place it in the freezer. Let the sorbet “ripen” (freeze), undisturbed, for several more hours, until it’s as hard as you like.