White Chocolate Sorbet
It's luscious and dreamy...whatever you call it.
Some people say they don’t like white chocolate.
“It’s not chocolate!” are words that are like nails on a chalkboard to me. I like chocolate in all forms: bittersweet, semisweet, unsweetened, milk (which is a lot more lovable if you buy the good stuff), and white chocolate, which I’ll concede they’re right about. White chocolate isn’t technically chocolate, as defined by the FDA. I have no beef (or whatever the chocolate equivalent is) with the FDA, but a lot of people seem to.
Real white chocolate is rich in cocoa butter, which is tasty, luxurious, and not inexpensive, which is why good white chocolate isn’t all that easy to come by. To be sure you’re getting the real deal, check the label; the only fat listed should be cocoa butter, and that’s it. Beware of impostors posing as “white coating” or “white baking chocolate.”
Hearing “I hate white chocolate. It’s not chocolate!” repeatedly, reminds me of when I baked in restaurants, and whenever I carried a dessert to the serving area, someone else in the kitchen would ask, “Hey…do you need someone to taste that?!” or “Is that for me?” with a hearty chuckle of self-satisfaction at their wit—as if I hadn’t heard it hundreds of times before. I heard it at least once a day.
Someone got the hint, finally, when I handed him an entire cake on a platter that I was rushing out to the dining room to serve to waiting customers. I said, “Sure. It’s yours…” and scrambled back to work, while he looked kinda like a dip, holding a fully decorated cake on a cake stand, not knowing what to do with it. (If he had tried to eat it, the waiters, who had customers waiting for their cake, would have descended upon him with a force he’d not seen…whereas I had.)
There are a few things to hate in this world, but aside from black licorice and green bell peppers, hating an inanimate object is a waste of time. I mean, what did white chocolate ever do to you? No, it’s not “chocolate,” just like what many of us think of as blini are actually closer to, if not the same thing as, oladi. But if someone offered me a platter of what they called buckwheat blini heaped with good caviar, I would certainly not refuse. Actual blini are closer to crêpes.
White chocolate is the perfect pairing partner for a number of things. Dark chocolate is one of them. But its delicate, creamy flavor makes it ripe ’n’ ready to go with fresh raspberries or strawberries or other summer fruits, such as peaches or nectarines, which will soon be here. And as someone who likes tart flavors, I can’t imagine anything better than a tangy plum compote or plum sorbet to go with this sorbet, although blueberries would be a home run.
David Lebovitz Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. This post is for all subscribers. If you’d like to receive every post and recipe (plus to read all the Paris apartment stories that I’ve posted…and more that are coming up!), become a paid subscriber here:
I hadn’t made this sorbet in years, which I’d originally posted on my blog way back in 2006. It’s adapted from Gale Gand’s book Chocolate & Vanilla, a pastry chef who was one of the first Food Network stars, spending eight years on the network before it evolved to what it is today, which is nearly void of bakers.
Thanks to a redesign of my blog, I’ve been going back through all the recipes and changing the numbering of the recipe steps since the new system automatically adds them, again—so many of the recipes have them twice, so they look like this:
1. 1. Mix the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
2. 2. Add eggs.
3. 3. Stir in the vanilla
With 748 recipes, well…if that sounds as fun to you as it does to me, you can understand why I am finding every reason to procrastinate.
Also in 2006, I thought my photos were amazing…
In 2022, well, not so much. So I’m spiffing up some of the photos and recipes as I go, making things again, and polishing things up.
Just like white chocolate isn’t really chocolate, technically the word “sorbet” means that it has no dairy in it. So this is really a misnomer, and I should call it sherbet, although that word often conjures up memories of neon-green or rainbow sherbets served at weddings, bar mitzvahs, and events in grey-curtained conference centers. To me, sorbet sounds a little loftier, so I’m going with it here. And since I live in France, no one knows what sherbet is and they (or we) use the word sorbet.
(If you still have a bone to pick with it, you can take it up with the 34 immortels who are entrusted with guarding the sanctity of the French language. Although, if you ask me, their definition of sorbet as a “snowy drink, flavored with liqueur or fruit juice” isn’t quite right. But who am I to argue with those who are immortal?)
But it’s hard to find fault with this dessert, which I served showered with chocolate shards. Even if you’re not old enough to remember ice milk, whose target audience was the diet set, which was popular decades ago, it’s nice to have a frozen dessert that’s less rich than ice cream but every bit as flavorful, no matter how you serve it, why you’re eating it, or what you call it.
White Chocolate Sorbet
About 2 cups (.5l)
The alcohol in the sorbet is optional, but in addition to flavor, it also helps keep the texture of this more scoopable right from the freezer. You can leave it out if you wish. If so, you might want to remove it from the freezer a few minutes before serving.
1 1/2 cups (375ml) whole milk
2/3 cup (160ml) water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise (or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract)
8 ounces (225g) white chocolate, chopped
1-2 tablespoons liquor, such as kirsch, gin, white rum, green Chartreuse, clear crème de cacao, or another favorite, added to taste
Prepare an ice bath by putting a medium bowl inside of a larger bowl that’s partially filled with ice and water. Set that aside.
Pour the milk and water into a medium saucepan. Add the sugar and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk. (Reserve the pod for another use.) Heat the milk mixture until it’s just about to boil, then remove from heat and add the white chocolate, stirring until the white chocolate is completely melted.
Transfer the mixture to the ice bath and stir occasionally until it’s completely chilled. (If you chill it overnight in the refrigerator, the chocolate will harden on top, which—in my experience—will break up when you churn it. But I prefer to churn it right away.)
Add the liquor to the white chocolate sorbet mixture, if using, and freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Help! I don’t have an ice cream maker!
I’ve heard that some people rail against single-use machines in their kitchens, but I’m not giving up my coffee maker, and I’m fond of my rice cooker too. The short answer is that an ice cream machine makes the work of churning ice cream easy, and it comes out better. Fortunately, there are great ice cream machines that cost around the same as a pizza with a few toppings and a couple of glasses of wine, if you eat out in a big city, and the ice cream–making attachment for the KitchenAid mixer works very well too. (Just make sure that if you live in the U.S., you get the model meant for America. If you live outside of the U.S., the model is a bit different, so get the one for your particular model and country.) I wrote more about ice cream machines here.
That said, people have been making frozen desserts before the invention of electricity, hauling down ice from Mount Etna in Sicily to churn things up by hand. If you want to make it without a machine, you can check out how to do it here. Because this sorbet doesn’t have a lot of fat, it will freeze somewhat firmly. So before it’s fully frozen, after you’ve stirred it several times, you can whiz it in a food processor to smooth it out and fluff it up a bit before returning it back to the freezer to chill thoroughly before serving.
Want more ice cream recipes? Check out:
This post is for all subscribers. Thanks for subscribing!