David Lebovitz's Chocolate Sorbet

By • June 12, 2012 • 70 Comments

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Author Notes: Despite having no dairy or eggs, this sorbet is impossibly creamy. It also remains perfectly scoopable without going hard or icy in the slightest, even after several days in the freezer. Lebovitz credits this remarkable consistency to the high proportion of bittersweet chocolate. Recipe from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz (Ten Speed Press, 2007)Genius Recipes

Makes about 1 quart (1 liter)

  • 2 1/4 cups (555 ml) water
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (75 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 ounces (170 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a large saucepan, whisk together 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) of the water with the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Bring to a boil whisking frequently. Let it boil, continuing to whisk for 45 seconds.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it's melted, then stir in the vanilla extract and the remaining 3/4 cup (180 ml) water. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend for 15 seconds. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. If the mixture has become too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.
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Comments (70) Questions (2)


8 months ago LLStone

I'm late to the party, but this is really great! I just made a batch for an ice cream social at work, and it's fantastic.


10 months ago Betsy Traub

I accidentally mixed all of the water to cook ingredients instead of some of the water and it still turned out beautifully. Super creamy and very rich. A little dollop of fresh whipped cream would be a great addition!


10 months ago ellencooks

Diana - see Robert Cardinalli's comment below how he made it without an ice cream machine.


10 months ago Diana

how do i make this without an ice-cream machine?


11 months ago Barney Wrobel

Why add the water in 2 parts? I'm going to try adding all the water in stage 1 and see what happens...either way, with both cocoa AND dark chocolate, this proves to be an intense sorbet. (love the espresso & amaretti addition, ellencooks)


11 months ago ellencooks

Barney - hope I caught you before you made the sorbet. Yes, you are right, it is a very intense chocolate dessert and very tasty. Do not make the same mistake I did. Forgetting the recipe called for adding the water in stages, I just did it in one. The result was a very hard sorbet, so hard as a matter of fact, it had to come out of the freezer 30-40 minutes before serving. Do the two stage water...you will be happier!


about 1 year ago Sharon

I am thinking of trying this onto try this on the frozen dessert setting in my Vitamix. Any thoughts?


about 1 year ago Vitaj

Try a tablespoon or so of vodka or some other alcohol in the recipe - it seems to keep a coconut-milk ice cream that I make pretty scoopable.


about 1 year ago Perrin Harkins

I enjoy the flavor of this, but I'm amazed at the description that it doesn't get hard in the freezer. In my freezer (set to the recommended 0 F and checked with a thermometer) it gets so hard that it has to sit out for 20 minutes before it can be scooped. My guess is that the Lindt 70% chocolate that I used has less sugar and more cocoa solids and cocoa butter. That would cause the mixture to freeze more completely. I'm experimenting with invert sugar to try make a softer version that can be scooped directly from the freezer, but that may not be possible without a lot more sugar.


about 1 year ago LilyB612

If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can always just use your food processor by putting the bowl in your freezer (with the makings of cold deliciousness inside) and taking it out to process your sorbet every hour or so until it's done. Works great!!


over 1 year ago palakh jain

can we make the chocolate sorbet without the icecream maker?


over 1 year ago Diane

Oh. My. Frozen brownie batter is the closest way I describe this. Don't make my mistake and skip the "cool completely" step, my mixture didn't even budge into a slushy state in the ice cream maker. I threw it in the freezer and found dreaded ice crystals this morning. I melted it slightly and ran it through the food processor, good as new, creamy, lush and utterly divine!


over 1 year ago Felicia Smith

I don't have 6 oz of semisweet chocolate. I do have cocoa powder that has a recipe on the side to convert the coca powder to baking chocolate. Could I just make that? Will it be the same?


over 1 year ago Robert Cardinalli

My ice cream freezer did not operate at the last minute so I just froze this in a container. It worked perfectly, not a hint of ice crystals. It was a little more dense than it would have been using the ice cream freezer but this just added to the decadence of the experience. All my guests swooned.


over 1 year ago fhp

I have never owned an ice cream maker. Does anyone have any suggestions for a first timer with little need for big batches.


over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

fhp, check out Robert Cardinalli's comment above if you haven't seen it already.


over 1 year ago tota

We just made this again for a birthday dinner---for a chef, no less. It was perfection,everyone loved it, and easy as long as you have good quality chocolate on hand. Am curious about the espresso addition tho, so next time will try this.


over 1 year ago ellencooks

I have been using a T of espresso powder in the water mixture. Fabulous! And finish with a sprinkle with crushed amaretti cookies. I make this every month for the husband.


over 1 year ago Kat Gál

can i use coconut sugar?


over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I haven't tried it, but I think it would be fine -- let us know if you do!


almost 2 years ago Sondra

I made this yesterday in a Cuisinart ice cream freezer, but the sorbet did not freeze after 45 minutes in the freezer. So I put it into a container and into the freezer overnight and it still didn't freeze. What's up with that? I followed the directions exactly as listed. The flavor was to die for, but the product did not freeze!


almost 2 years ago k's cucina

Sounds like your freezer may not be cold enough? It sounds as though it not set to a low enough temperature to either freeze your ice cream maker insert or a slightly thick liquid. There is nothing wrong with the recipe and I suspect you will find that your ice cream machine will work (with any recipe, whether ice cream, sorbet, or gelato) within 20-25 minutes, if it is properly frozen:-)


about 2 years ago shoka2005

I don't have ice cream machine
could you tell me what to do in this condtion ,please ?


about 2 years ago belby0

This was so unbelievably good it prompted me to buy his book, The Perfect Scoop!


about 2 years ago lisabu

I couldn't believe i'd like a chocolate sorbet but this is divine. Made it with Guittard Cocoa Rouge and Scharfenberger chocolate. Served with Alice Medrich's coconut macaroons for Passover.


about 2 years ago LovieH2O

This is so rich and chocolaty it is dangerous. A little goes a long way. Then after a few minutes it calls you back for another taste. Best part is it makes me the gourmet in the eyes of my fans.


about 2 years ago Ali @ Peaches and Football

This recipe looks to die for. Absolutely cannot wait to try it and I love the ability to make it vegan! Some other substitutions: you could split the water and replace half with coconut milk for a very creamy treat and still not have the dairy.


about 2 years ago BurgeoningBaker

1. Isn't a sorbet by definition sans cream/milk?
2. Don't most chocolates contain dry milk or milk fat?


about 2 years ago Joshua Pines

1. Yes
2. Not dark chocolate


about 2 years ago Lee Ann Cox

Sounds fabulous! I'll have to try it.
I'm on the "no dairy=no ear infections" eating style and usually use soy or almond milk when I make ice cream, but this looks great!


about 2 years ago Gayle Roberts Krupin

I'm surprised you use Dutch processed cocoa. Alkaline is not good for people!


almost 2 years ago ageekymom

David talks about Dutch cocoa here:


about 2 years ago gretch374

I am having a crazy thought to cut back on the sugar and use that caramelized white chocolate in place of the bittersweet. Just for kicks and giggles. And hopefully boat loads of super yumminess. If I try it I'll let you know how it turns out.


about 2 years ago Beth Ellen

This recipe is magical. Some kind of alchemy happens during the preparation of the ingredients to produce such a creamy product. It is absolutely delicious, yet very, very strong...too strong for my kids. So I experimented with combining the chilled mixture with 1.5 cups of heavy cream and 1/2 tsp vanilla before freezing. This turned out to be one of the best chocolate ice creams ever!


over 2 years ago mbinzel

This is one of the best chocolate recipes EVER. DO NOT skip or forget the blender step like I did once...it homogenizes the mixture. Without it, you end up with gritty bits of chocolate in a sugary mixture. Still edible, but not nearly as delicious.


over 2 years ago monacake

i return to this recipe again and again, and am always grateful and satiated. what a gift this simple, decadent, magical recipe is.


over 2 years ago nicolena

I made this last night - absolutely delicious! I added a bit of cayenne and some cardamom to give it a bit of kick. Highly recommend!!


over 2 years ago Choirbell

Awesome! We found that for some reason our ice cream maker only got the mixture to a slushy stage (which tasted awesome). But we put it in the freezer and it turned out to be a great Sorbet texture the next day. We'll be making it again and again as my husband is a chocoholic! I'd love to try it with cold coffee instead of water.


almost 3 years ago Margaret McCormick

So easy, so delicious -- like a Fudgesicle on steroids! Super chocolate-y. Served with raspberries and a garnish of mint. Can't wait to eat it again tonight!


almost 3 years ago Phoov

Stunning! Could not find full Dutch cocoa here in the NC mountains, I'm sure it is here somewhere!, but I did find a blend and used that. I had a ton of good quality 'eating' dark chocolate on hand....including 3 ozs of dark with orange zest, and incorporated that with another 3 ozs. plain dark. Made it just a slightly orangey wonderfulness!!!!!


almost 3 years ago tota

this is an amazing recipe...very,very easy (granted we had access to excellent chocolate) and everyone loved it. I think it is brilliant that something so good has no cream or eggs in it....I will make it over and over (and our relatively inexpensive Cuisinart ice cream maker worked perfectly...)


almost 3 years ago Robert B

On the second try, I added a modest pinch of cayenne to the dry ingredients before the boiling, with great results.


almost 3 years ago lapadia

I’ve wanted to make this since last year, finally got around to it thanks to this posting. Delicious! I added a teaspoon Espresso powder to the water because I like this taste combination and 1.5 tablespoons chocolate vodka with the vanilla to help keep the sorbet softer....note, a habit of mine with any frozen treat.


almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I made this today and it's so wonderful. So easy to make, rich, creamy and delicious I don't even miss the milk and cream. Makes a fantastic ice cream soda or shake.


almost 3 years ago chefkatgurl

I love experimenting with my Cusinart ice cream maker. This was one of the easiest & quickest frozen desserts I ever made. Very rich and delicious...I had a sugar high that lasted hours(!) Even subbed in 1/4 of the sugar with stevia powder. Hersheys has a dark cocoa powder that's really good.


almost 3 years ago Rebecca,Rodriguez

i made a triple batch & froze it in a 9x13 glass pyrex. i gave it a good stir after the first 45 min, and 2x more after 30 min. then i left it in the freezer overnight. it's def very dense and melts quickly. i think it would have been a little more airy if i had used the ice cream maker, but it's not totally necessary. hope this helps!!


almost 3 years ago KarenSue

I followed the directions precisely, used a Cuisanart Ice Cream Machine, and it was perfect. It looks exactly like the photo above + I did sprinkle a few pieces of salt on the top. It does appear to be more of a frozen mousse, not terribly thick, even the next day, so don't think you've made a mistake. Perfection! BTW... I used ghiradhelli cocoa + hershey's semisweet chocolate chips, which I had in the pantry.


almost 3 years ago Vitaj

To revise my previous post, after the ice cream maker had done all it could, I put the not-quite-frozen xylitized sorbet in the freezer, and it HAS firmed up a bit, though not as much as I suspect David L's does. Still, I am revising my judgement - it's more of a frozen mousse, and it melts FAST once outside the freezer, but it's still delicious, and more than OK with the substitution. It would amazing as a layer in a parfait, also, where it everything would be less time sensitive in terms of plating it. Xylitol-lovers - give this a try: David's amazing recipe subbing "x" for sugar.


almost 3 years ago fitsxarts

This is a game changer. And so creamy-delicious that I will happily eat this in lieu of ice cream. Thank you thank you! And yes, it's all about the chocolate.


almost 3 years ago mdm

DELICIOUS! Made it over the weekend for a big gang and we all loved it -- thank you!


almost 3 years ago Vitaj

OK: Bad times on the xylitol tip. The 45-second boil with the sugar matters (perhaps obviously to some of you!!). And the structural changes that do NOT happen with a 45-second boil of xylitol mean that a very soft-serve product is probably all that's possible. : ( I think I'll jar it, and use it as a topping on actual ice cream (though my actual ice cream is usually made with coconut milk). It's delicious, but radical changes would need to be made for this to work, probably in the form of adding dairy/eggs or both.


almost 3 years ago sheredel

if no ice cream maker (currently!) any other way to freeze?


almost 3 years ago jellybeans

I don't have an ice cream maker....I feel like rushing out and buying the chocolate....I could taste it.Someone please try and make this by hand and post details.


almost 3 years ago mooleeadie

Echoing Vitaj on the xylitol question: I prefer the taste to sugar as well as the other benefits of substitution and wish more of you geniuses and great cooks worked with it. I may try the experiment.


almost 3 years ago missedtheboatagain

I'd love some ice cream maker recommendations. I have a tiny apartment freezer, so I don't want the kind where you have to freeze the canister. Which self chilling models (I know this means more $$$) work well and are reasonably priced? Where can you buy them online?


almost 3 years ago Vitaj

Do you think it would be possible to sub xylitol for sugar? It's all about whether or not the sugar does MORE than sweeten, because xylitol doesn't behave like sugar chemically in recipes. I think I'll try - living Low Carba Vida, but this sounds too good to not give low-carbization a go! Thanks!


almost 3 years ago knitnbead

You really don't need a $300+ ice cream maker. Cuisinart makes one for about $35 that works great. I have mine for years. It's one that has a freezing canister and any frozen concoction is ready within a half hour.


almost 3 years ago AlizaEss

I don't have an ice cream freezer... once I froze a coffee syrup like this in ice cube trays and ground them up in a cuisinart. It worked pretty well! Also considering this method of making ice cream/sorbet in a plastic bag: http://citypaper.com/eat...


almost 3 years ago SEW

Oh...My...Goodness, yes, yes, and yes!


almost 3 years ago Once Upon A Feast

I purchased a Cuisinart Ice Cream maker for $59 from Sam's Club, and they are also on Amazon for a bargain. It works beautifully, and is usually done in about 20 minutes.


almost 3 years ago Kerryloves2travel

By itself or paired with fresh raspberries & a bit of whipped cream! Divine.
Or a bit of crumbled Hazelnut cookies...
Never wrong with a smooth creamy chocolate dessert!


almost 3 years ago ellenj

Do I need to use Dutch-process cocoa powder in this recipe? I have regular cocoa already in my pantry?


almost 3 years ago Stephanie G

I suspect that he uses Dutch processed for the dark color.


almost 3 years ago KCKris

I'd stick with the Dutch-process cocoa. It has a smoother flavor than regular cocoa.


almost 3 years ago ann67p

Do you have to put this into an ice cream maker? Can you just freeze it, stirring it occasionally? I know that's not as good as the maker, but it might do.


almost 3 years ago Kt4

I have the same question. There are a lot of good sounding sorbet & ice cream recipes coming out but I don't have [nor can I afford] an ice cream maker. It would be *great* if someone did an article about how to get around that ... hint, hint ;)


almost 3 years ago MindyK

Same question :) What if you don't have an ice cream maker?


almost 3 years ago chocbird09


Take care to REALLY break down any chunks when you stir. At first I didn't and my first homemade sorbet was rather dissappointing ;)


almost 3 years ago maiolicagirl

This is a beautiful recipe, a favorite for summer. Paired with espresso granita or caramel ice cream or layered with , blackberry or raspberry sorbet and made into a terrine. It is a sublime summer time dessert. Bring on the fruit!