it was ice cream headaches and sweet avalanche

On the one hand, I absolutely hate tough love and would much rather live in some kind of constructed reality where I’m relentlessly coddled and never need face up to hard truths, on the other hand if I was on top of my game at any given areas of my life, tough love and hard truths wouldn’t need to be a constant burden to be avoided, yeah? Anyway to my great aggrievement, I had to tough-love myself and acknowledge that there is just no feasible way that the ticket to Lana Del Rey’s concert in Melbourne at the end of this month that I bought for myself in a burst of hopefulness earlier this year is going to get used by me, not in this economy. (Although I have best friend and economy expert Kim to thank for getting me to this point, she was essentially like “have you decided what you’re doing” and I was like “I’ve decided to flail endlessly” and she was like “what are your incoming and outgoing funds” and I was like “lol as if I’m supposed to know that kind of thing” and then I kind of investigated and she was like “well there’s your answer.”)

Part of the reason that it was so hard to give up the idea that some eleventh-hour miracle might happen is that I haven’t left the country in six entire years, partly because of life getting in the way of life, mostly because of the old incoming-outgoing paradox, and while traveling for the purpose of pleasure in no way makes you a more interesting or worthy person, I was like, I’m an adult, aren’t I? Why can I not perform this small display of adulthood in the manner of so many other adults? But also being kind to myself in the face of defeat but also not pinning my entire hopes and worth upon one single star when there’s a whole galaxy out there waiting, is also something of a display of adulthood, I GUESS.  (Related: if someone wants to purchase one GA ticket to Lana Del Rey’s concert in Melbourne on 31 March kindly get in touch.)

Meanwhile, I made some ice cream. I would regard ice cream as easily one of my favourite foods; as I’ve said before there’s something about its creamy frozen-ness that is a perfect blank canvas upon which to paint flavour, I love its billowing softness, its glacial richness, its melting sweetness, its, um…I just really like ice cream. My love for ice cream possibly exceeds my ability to talk about ice cream reverently, and you know I store vast reserves of reverence within my brain, like a camel of overexcitement.

Initially when I started making ice cream, well over ten years ago now, I would either do the traditional method – gently cooking egg yolks and cream into a rich custard – or Nigella’s swift method, literally just sugared whipped cream – but my current favourite base recipe that I find it impossible to extricate myself from because it’s so easy and makes perfect ice cream every time, is a mixture of condensed milk and cream. So this time around my idea was tahini and honey – tahini is a thick, rich paste of ground sesame seeds, with a really wonderful toasty nutty flavour and the texture of peanut butter. Even if you’ve never bought any you’ve probably had it before as it’s an ingredient in hummus.

This makes for a really lovely, slightly unusual flavoured ice cream – there’s an almost savoury quality to all that sesame, but its toasty nuttiness, and I’m sorry to re-use adjectives but there’s only so many bloody ways to say it – is just wonderful against the thick, soft, creamy backdrop of the ice cream. The honey adds gentle sweetness and all in all it’s a very mellow, mild ice cream, the sort that would be ideal under lots of toppings – some toasted pine nuts or walnuts, a further drizzle of sticky, slow-moving honey, some dark, dark melted chocolate, or as I did, a scattering of sesame seeds, for obvious reasons.

tahini honey ice cream

  • 50g butter
  • three heaped tablespoons tahini
  • thre heaped tablespoons honey
  • one can sweetened condensed milk
  • 600ml cream  
  • sea salt  

Stir the butter, honey, and tahini together in a saucepan over a low heat until the butter is melted and it’s juuuust at the ghost of a simmer, like, remove it from the heat just when bubbles start to form on the surface. Stir in the condensed milk and a decent pinch of sea salt. Whisk the cream in a large bowl till it’s just thickened but not whipped – thick enough to be kind of billowy and bordering-on-solid but not actually in stiff peaks, you know? Mix the cream into the tahini honey mixture any way you like – I poured half the cream into the tahini and whisked it and then poured that into the remaining whisked cream and folded it together but honestly literally, whatever.  

Spatula all this into a container of roughly 1 litre and freeze overnight or until solid. 

For me the most difficult part making of ice cream is probably waiting around for it to freeze solid enough to be eaten, other than that hardship I assure you that this recipe, as I hope for all my ice cream recipes to be, is really pretty easy and requires nothing more than a spoon, a pan, and a freezer-safe container. Something about the density of the sweetened condensed milk (or it could be any other scientific reason beyond my comprehension, the point is, it works) prevents any ice crystals from forming, meaning all you have to do is bung the mixture in the freezer and leave it alone, without any stirring or blending or further agitation until the blissful moment of actually eating it.

Gloomily accepting my lot in life aside, I did have a high-achieving week: I flew up home to Waiuku to spend two nights with my parents, catch up with an awful lot of family all at once, be roundly ignored by the cats, and pick up some total clothing gems at the local op shop, before scooting briefly up to Auckland to see Fall Out Boy in concert, the result of a ticket I purchased a long time ago and completely forgot about until quite recently. It was lovely to go home and see everyone, and the concert itself was just wonderful, such naked earnestness (luckily the nudity remained metaphorical only), such whoa-oh-ohs, such specificity of lyrics that it’s like, how dare you.  Just in case you thought I was exaggerating about well, literally anything earlier, the only way I was able to spatula myself on a mere visit to Auckland was with financial assistance from my parents for the flights, but one out of two concerts in one month isn’t bad, I guess. And if nothing else there’s no better music to listen to when you’re feeling sad about Lana Del Rey than Lana Del Rey, she is to sad moods what like, salt is to tomatoes.

And if nothing else, I did manage to finally get my application for my passport sent off, including an injurously bad photo that I refuse to acknowledge is an accurate representation of me in the slightest, considering my current passport expired in 2014 (I’m literally grinning in the photo inside it, can’t do that anymore) I’m mildly proud of myself.

While we’re talking ice cream I have any number of other recipes to recommend to you if you’re interested, but instead I offer you some recipes with which to use the rest of the jar of tahini – such as Green Tea Soba Noodles with Tahini Satay Sauce; Ottolenghi’s Roasted Butternut with Lime, Yoghurt Tahini Sauce, and Chilli; or this truly incredible Halvah Shortbread.

title from: Carpal Tunnel of Love, by Fall Out Boy, as I am nothing if not topical.

music lately:

A nice thing about working at Laundry bar is that there’s regularly DJ sets to bop to, and the very last song on Saturday night just got me right in the heart, it was a remix of Beth Orton’s song Central Reservation and it just filled me with euphoria, which, at the tail end of a long shift is like, a cool feeling. I haven’t been able to find the exact version that I heard but this one will do in the meantime.

Another song that stopped me in my tracks at work was when one of the DJ’s just casually dared to drop Rez by Underworld, like, did they not realize that when this song is playing I am capable of naught but standing with my eyes closed and waving my arms around in what I hope is roughly a graceful fashion, interrupted only by some jumping up and down with little regard for objects or people around me? This song is just magical.

Deftones, My Own Summer. Respectfully, shove it.

next time: Well, I still have half a jar of tahini left.

cold as ice cream but still as sweet, dry your eyes sunday girl

My current response to “how are you” is that my one personality is being overheated and that’s how I’m doing, thanks very much (and honestly, how am I? What kind of a question is that in this economy?) As such, the only thing to do is make ice cream, put it in the freezer, and then eat it, in lieu of being able to stash myself in said freezer. Oh sure, one shouldn’t complain, this is Wellington, city of a thousand winters, but as a pale vampire nursing a thriving vitamin D deficiency living in a bedroom with a microclimate that’s increasingly not unlike a dense rainforest, it’s all a bit much! (An alternate response to “how are you” is to coolly inform them that you’re coming out of your cage and you’re doing just fine.)

This is not just any old ice cream – although it never is. I suppose we could generously concede that I have one other personality trait, that I’m a bartender, and as such concocting cocktails and imagining various combinations of x and y poison regularly occupy my thoughts. In this case, I thought it would be fun to take Fernet-Branca, the “bartender’s handshake”, an ancient and storied Italian bitters that we doggedly take pride in necking shots of at every opportunity, and incorporate it into my favourite food.

I first became aware of Fernet-Branca when it was mentioned in Jilly Cooper’s rollicking and bonk-heavy novel Rivals; (side note: it’s really the only book of hers I can stomach and it’s heavily problematic but on the whole I adore Declan and Caitlin and Taggie and Rupert and Lizzie like they’re old friends and basically she was never more winning than in this particular book and I like to reread it every summer.) The character Rupert Campbell-Black has had the memoirs of his ludicrously prolific sex life published in the local paper in an attempt to Campbell-Blacken his name ahead of a bid for a television franchise (idk, it’s the plot) and his friend Basil Baddingham (really) offers him a Fernet-Branca as fortification before he reads it. If it’s the sort of thing offered on that level of apocalyptic magnitude, you can see why it’s a bolstering shot for bartenders to drink at any occasion, like a wine match but for your emotions. All of them.

When I was at Motel bar we would have shots of it at midnight, as an oh-we’re-halfway-there-living-on-a-prayer type reinforcement. Like sailors with their rations of rum, we had our Fernet, and we kind of revelled in the romanticism of it all, from hosting a tasting with the (wonderful, lovely, raucously good fun) brand supplier to making a fidget spinner in the shape of the logo (never thought I’d use the words romanticism and fidget spinner together in a sentence, but it is 2018.) On the final night of Motel’s existence – New Year’s Eve – my contribution to the cocktail list naturally had Fernet Branca in it.

Not everyone likes it, and nor should they, but I am not particularly sorry for taking joy in the shared experience of it because honestly, bartending is a hard, often thankless, mop-bucket-water covered, underpaid, underslept occupation and you’ve got to derive joy from stuff where you can! Don’t get me wrong: the flavour is challenging. Some would say appalling. As my brand t-shirt says, it contains 27 herbs and all of them legal, and it’s literally medicinal (or so we insist), so if you get “mouthwash but harsher” or “jaeger but without the sugar” vibes then that’s, like, more or less accurate. But I figured that against a backdrop of soft, mellowly rich cream and sugar its aggressiveness would be mollified into gentle tones of mint, and I was delighted to be proven right. In all honesty sometimes I swear I taste actual dirt when I drink the stuff, but any rough edges are muffled and calmed by all that dairy. Before it gets all too easy though I also folded in paper-thin, irregularly shaped shards of dark, dark chocolate (made by melting it on a sheet of baking paper and then letting it set before breaking it up.) The bitterness of the chocolate is a natural pair for the Fernet and interrupts the smoothness of the ice cream with its fragile crunch.

It’s also, as is so often my aim, really easy to make. I’ve no capacity for making a yolk-heavy anglaise in this heat, so instead I just bung together some cream and some sweetened condensed milk, which come together to make an ice cream of rapturously soft velveteen-ness. Oh and you don’t need an ice cream machine to make this, or any of my ice cream recipes.

fernet-branca stracciatella ice cream

a recipe by myself

  • two shots (60ml or quarter of a cup) Fernet-Branca
  • one tin of sweetened condensed milk 
  • 800ml cream
  • 100g dark chocolate

Firstly sort out the chocolate: rip a large sheet of baking paper and lay it on the bench, then gently melt the chocolate (I do it in short bursts in the microwave, once the squares start to look like they’re about to collapse and lose their shape you can give it a stir and it should just turn into liquid.) Spatula it out in an even, thin layer onto the sheet of baking paper and leave to harden. If your house is super warm, pop it in the fridge instead. 

Whisk the cream with moderate enthusiasm until it’s thickened and lightly aerated but not whipped, which should only take thirty seconds or so. Tip in the tin of condensed milk, scraping out every last sticky vestige from inside, and add the Fernet. Whisk again to combine.

Tip it into a container of about 1.5L capacity and put it in the freezer for a few hours. At this point, crumble up the sheet of chocolate – the easiest way to do this is to just fold up and scrunch the baking paper so it all breaks up into uneven pieces – and fold it into the slightly-solidified ice cream. Return it to the freezer and leave until it’s, well, ice cream. 

 Yes, I did take home quite a bit of merch when the bar closed.  Yes, I did take home quite a bit of merch when the bar closed.

                  I considered calling it Mint Choc Chip for Grown Ups but that felt a bit elitist, although possibly it’s even more elitist to call it Stracciatella, which refers to the thin, shard style of chocolate stirred in. Since Fernet itself is Italian I figured, might as well go full immersion. But all you need to know is that it’s just extremely delicious stuff, an icy herbal minty kick blanketed in sweet frozen cream with the welcome interruption of chocolate, what’s not to love? Don’t be tempted to add more Fernet to the ice cream itself, or the alcohol content will act as aggressive anti-freeze, I suggest instead eating it affogato style with a further shot upended over a scoop of the stuff.   

Oh and speaking of conviviality and bartending and stuff I’m now working at Laundry Bar, and having an excellent time of it, thank you. It’s so good to be bartending again! There’s a bit in the aforementioned book Rivals where Cameron Cook is all “I only feel alive when I see my name in the credits of shows I’ve produced” and while I don’t want to be that codependent on my job I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being immensely fulfilled by something that also happens to pay your rent, and in my case making cocktails is what makes me super happy, it just is what it is.

Should all this talk of ice cream get your fancy tickled, I’d also like to recommend some other supremely easy recipes of mine that I’ve blogged about:  apple cinnamon ice cream; cocoa and olive oil sorbet; or grapefruit ripple ice cream are a fine place to start.

title from: Blondie’s upbeat yet wistful (best genre) song Sunday Girl. 

music lately:

I’ve been listening to a LOT of Teenage Fanclub. Their song Norman 3 is just like, so bloody nice, don’t let the suspiciously drab title fool you. The chorus is repeated so many times that you think your brain is short-circuiting but then you just never want it to end.

I have also been fiending Less Than Jake, to pluck one from the air, History of a Boring Town is v good.

Don’t even think for a second that I’m not still on my Les Miserables buzz. Let’s hear it for Philip Quast, whose surname sounds like a Harry Potter in-universe curse word, generally accepted to be the definitive Javert, just flawlessly delivering on his big number, Stars. I adore his enunciation (“this I swehhhhh by the stars”).

next time: I made some vegan coconut pikelets the other day but it was too hot to talk about anything but ice cream so this recipe took precedence. So; next time! 

i’m fond of twin peaks, afternoons, inexpensive wine…

Okay, so I used to make ice cream ALL the time. In fact it was my default flavour vehicle, like, if I got the notion that X might taste good with Y, I’d put them in an ice cream together. These days, my bartendering self is far more likely to envisage how flavours would work in a cocktail, and my busy life of making cocktails (and, I concede, pestering other bartenders to make them for me) plus the fact that from October to January I was essentially going through a training montage except where I get more and more useless due to my mental health while Eye of the Tiger plays: it all adds up to not a lot of ice cream making from me. Which is a pity because damn it if ice cream isn’t one of my very favourite foods, not just to eat but to create recipes for.

“Mr Cooper, how do you take it?” “Black as midnight on a moonless night”

It was in a mood of buoyant, motivated optimism that I set out to make ice cream once more. The recipe in question was one I’d invented many years ago, back when I was writing a cookbook for Penguin (if you’re new here: I am a published cookbook author, yes) and felt like revisiting. The flavour is, specifically, coffee and cherry, but the name of it is Twin Peaks Ice Cream because I came up with it in tribute to the TV show. If you haven’t seen Twin Peaks, look it up on Wikipedia or I’ll accidentally spend seventeen paragraphs talking about it instead of ice cream, but its uneasy, dreamy weirdness was exceedingly and immediately compelling to me and I got into it in a big way. I still have a framed picture of central character Laura Palmer’s prom photo on my dressing table, just to keep me lightly spooked at all times. The flavours in question, however, reference the character Special Agent Dale Cooper’s unwavering dedication to coffee and his nakedly sincere admiration of the cherry pie he is served at the town’s diner.

Coffee and cherries might not immediately sound like they want to get into an ice cream together, but I confidently assert that they work beautifully. The coffee flavour comes by heating whole roasted coffee beans up in the cream before straining them out and turning it into a custard, and the cherries (Morello, from a jar) are added right at the end. The coffee’s bitterness is muffled by the blanketing effect of the cream, providing a rich backdrop for the tart sorbet-bursts of frozen Morello cherries, and the slight nuttiness of both – from the generally roasty flavour of the coffee and the marzipan territory that cherries naturally veer into – is extremely delightful in ya mouth. Not to mention pop culture references make everything more delicious, it’s just a fact.

“my log saw something that night”

If there is one soapbox I’m always at the ready to climb upon, it’s that you truly don’t need an ice cream machine to make ice cream. All I did was make this, bung it in a container, and put it in the freezer, and it was perfect. Like, that’s it. I used to think you had to stir the ice cream at intervals as it froze but these days I’m quite convinced that if you just freeze it and then eat it that’s all you need to do. Seriously. Anyway, now that I’m off my monumentally specific soapbox I will freely admit that this particular recipe does require some effort and confidence in your cooking skills. Making custard from scratch, with egg yolks, cream, and sugar, can be a little stressful simply because you’re trying to stir it over heat that’s high enough to slowly cook the eggs and thicken the mixture, but not so high that the egg can’t resist its natural urge to rapidly scramble. It is, however, a truly satisfying challenge and makes for a satiny, lush ice cream once frozen. If it’s all too much for you though I have a ton of ludicrously simple ice cream recipes for you and I’ll list some at the end of this post.

twin peaks ice cream

a recipe by myself

  • four egg yolks
  • 150g sugar
  • 600ml cream
  • a vague handful of coffee beans
  • a jar of pitted Morello cherries

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Depending on your yolks this might form a kind of disturbingly thick paste, this is nothing to be concerned about though – you just need them mixed together. Gently heat the 300ml of the cream with the coffee beans together in a large saucepan until the cream is juuust wobblingly about to start bubbling, then remove it from the heat. Either strain the beans out or scoop them out with a small sieve, whichever is less stressful (for me: the latter.)  Briskly whisk a half-cupful or so of the coffee-infused hot cream into the egg yolks and sugar – you want to do it fast so that the yolks don’t seize up and cook in the heat. Whisk in another half cupful, and then finally just tip the lot in and stir to combine.  

Now! Throw all of this back into the pan, and stir over a low heat till it thickens. It will already be fairly thick, because there’s not a lot of cream, but persevere patiently and continue to stir, ideally with a silicone spatula, until it thickens somewhat. This should take about five minutes. It won’t really look noticeably different to when it started but don’t you dare overheat it and let it curdle: this is the bit of custard-based ice cream that’s a bit terrifying, and I freely admit it. Generally you’re looking for something that’s got the vibe of a good quality thickshake, and remove it from the heat immediately as soon as you suspect it’s at this point.

Immediately spatula this custard into a bowl or container and refrigerate it till chilled. From here it’s all easy stuff: whisk the remaining cream until thickened but not whipped, fold it into the chilled custard, and then stir in as many drained morello cherries as you like until it feels like it’s suitably cherried. Like seriously, it’s up to you, it just depends on how many cherries you want in your damn ice cream.

Freeze it. Don’t even worry about stirring it, unless you suspect all the cherries have fallen to the bottom and you want to redistribute them a bit. Eat it when it’s frozen.  

“every day, once a day, give yourself a present”

I believe it is particularly delicious if you eat it while swaying around dreamily like Audrey Horne, but maybe that’s just me.

Unfortunately, the story does not end there with me simply making ice cream and then happily eating it. After photographing this small coffee cup full of ice cream that you see here (and, thank you to my brother and his partner for sending them to me for Christmas!) I ate it, returned the rest of the ice cream to the freezer and carried on with my day, merry with the knowledge that when I returned home there would be gloriously smooth, creamy, cherry-studded ice cream waiting for me. Alas, like Twin Peaks, there was a tragic twist: the freezer immediately decided to break down and stop doing the one thing it is tasked with doing in its simple life. The ice cream turned to room temperature soup and had to be unceremoniously discarded. Leaving me with only the memory of that one damn fine coffee cup of ice cream.

Anyway I got over it pretty quickly, with the rueful acceptance that comes from years and years of regularly accidentally ruining things, but like, what a bummer, huh. At least I got to eat a little of it: just enough to enthusiastically recommend you try making it too.

“Laura had a lot of secrets”

It was disheartening that after all that momentum the ice cream was lost, but I’m not going to let it get me down and will indeed be making more ice cream sooner rather than later. In fact the only thing really holding me back is the fact that the freezer still isn’t working. On Monday night I was fortunate enough to attend a Chartreuse/Fernet-Branca tasting and (having recovered, more or less) my brain has gone full circle to the point where I’m pondering a kind of riff on mint choc chip ice cream using Fernet as an ingredient. Watch this space. Speaking of fortunate I was also given a Fernet Coin by the brand’s representative, a rare and elusive trinket that bartenders really care about and which is met with resounding shrugs from everyone else, and now I feel deliciously legit.

Speaking of deliciously legit and apropos of nothing I’d just like to add that I went to the Pride event Out in the Park on Saturday and looking around seeing happy young teens with rainbows painted on their faces and really old women walking around holding hands and every kind of person inbetween made my heart expand to the point where I was just a human-shaped heart. Plus there were so many dogs: our most important allies.

Anyway if you aren’t entirely put off the idea of making ice cream by my tale of woe, some other ice cream recipes I’ve come up with which are wayyyy easier than this one to make include Gin and Tonic Ice Cream, White Chocolate and Burnt Butter Ice Cream, and, just in time for the season: Feijoa Ice Cream.

title from: Make Out Kids, by Motion City Soundtrack. Whiny and full of feelings, like me.

music lately:

I went to Pixies a couple of weeks ago and while they’re like, not the same line-up that they used to be, it was euphoric. With extreme predictability we collectively lost it when they played Where Is My Mind but for me an unhinged and shouty rendition of Debaser was the highlight. 

Althea and Donna, Uptown Top Ranking. There is NEVER a bad time for this song.

Also, Lana Del Rey released a new song called Love and so nothing else matters or exists.

next time: nothing that involves refrigeration, I guess.

frozen inside without your touch

It’s so interesting to me how the body doesn’t remember pain. As any scientist will tell you, it’s super necessary for us to forget what hurting feels like, to ensure the human race can continue…to get tattoos. And also give birth. On a smaller scale, hunger works like that. When you are hungry, it’s all like “I could definitely eat an entire cheesecake and probably a large bowl of chowder; I also think that seventeen is a good quantity of whole grilled eggplants for one human to consume. God I want some Nando’s.”

And then when you’re feeling nauseous and the thought of food leaves you blank and numb, suddenly it’s like…why do humans eat? What possible joy is there to be derived from food? Do the words “food blog” seem really weird to you? So it’s like…you write about food? That seems confusing? And so it goes, round in circles. Don’t even get me started on that “wait why do humans drink?” feeling that I get when hungover. Aren’t humans funny!

 scoop! there it is (so not sorry for this pun, but I would unrelatedly like to follow this up with a sincere apology for it  scoop! there it is (so not sorry for this pun, but I would unrelatedly like to follow this up with a sincere apology for it

Anyway the point of all this high level impressive science talk is that I made this dark cocoa and olive oil sorbet simply because I was hungry for it. The ingredients seemed so rich and alive and I wanted to see how the flavours would work together. I’d been given a bottle of Seresin Estate olive oil, so aggressively green that the overture from Wicked would play in my head every time I looked at it; and had some organic cocoa that I was given by my godmother a while back, soft and dark like iron sand.  I made it and ate it, and it was incredible. I photographed it, and it looked really pretty. And now that I’ve come to write about it, I’m, well, not feeling very good. But this is my opportunity to write, and I am not going to let a mere thing like the sight of food making me recoil suspiciously get in the way of this super important blog, especially since I only just relaunched it with this shiny new pretty look. You know that “mere flesh wound” bit from Monty Python? (If you don’t, just ask literally any baby boomer and they’ll enthusiastically recreate it for you.) That’s me with this blog.

The thing is, I do remember this sorbet tasting unbelievably good: pitch-dark chocolate flavour saved from throat-burning intensity by all the sugar, with the glossy olive oil adding the slightest suggestion of black pepper and some general lusciousness. If you use a more buttery, less grassy olive oil it will absolutely be delightful, but I like how this particular one brought out the almost meaty richness of the cocoa. In case all this talk of meat and grass and pepper sounds unhelpful, like, please know that this sorbet is honestly just massively good with enormous chocolatey flavour and a pleasingly yielding texture. The icy coldness of it all just makes the taste of chocolate even more delicious.

dark cocoa and olive oil sorbet

a recipe by myself. 

  • one and a half cups of good dark cocoa
  • one cup of sugar
  • two and a half cups of boiling water
  • two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • a tiny pinch of sea salt

Either in a bowl, or in the container you plan to freeze it in – and you know I went for the latter – carefully mix the cocoa and sugar together so they form a sugary cocoa-y dust. Slowly pour in the olive oil and salt, and mix in a little. Add the water, a little at a time, stirring slowly till you have a thick, dark soupy liquid. I keep saying to do everything slowly because it’s really easy to fling clouds of cocoa everywhere or spill the lot, or at least it definitely is for me. 

Stick it in the freezer, and give it a stir every hour or so – normally I wouldn’t make you stir it this often but this is just to keep the olive oil all fully incorporated. After a few hours it should be frozen fully and ready to spoon into waiting mouths.  

Possibly more exciting than any aspect of the flavour that I can lay an alarming quantity of adjectives upon is: you can make it in the container that you’re going to freeze it in, thus avoiding the horror of washing one bowl. You’re using a lot of cocoa, but I do urge you to buy as good a quality one as you can muster – it doesn’t matter what brand, as long as the fat content is at least 20g per 100g of cocoa. At least. It’ll just be all palely not-quite-chocolatey without it. I just love ice cream so much and don’t want you to end up with frozen garbage! On the upside, water is free and sugar is really cheap and usually someone in your flat has a bag of it anyway. One other point about this sorbet: if you don’t get the chance to stir it every hour or so, the olive oil will obstinately separate from the water and freeze solid on its own: this is actually not the end of the world. It is, however, also science. Just break up the frozen oil by stirring it in – any remaining bits of it have the exact texture of nice chocolate and taste not unlike it too, so no harm done.

Leaving ice cream to the side for a minute: something in my life that I’ve been immensely proud of is being a contributor to The Toast website. (Noted readers include Hilary Clinton, I’ve just found out.) The Toast closed its doors this week, which left a particular emptiness in my heart and/or soul – it was always such a warm, safe place where I could go for an absolute escape; to find myself in the incredible specificities of the writing or to learn a ton of new stuff. It was a kind and clever and beautiful website and I’m bummed that it’s done but I’m so happy that I got to be a part of it with my Crush Cake series. I don’t know where I’m going to take the series next – maybe I’ll pitch it to someone else, maybe I’ll just let it be, but either way I feel like you should definitely read my two favourites: the profiterole mountain I made for Lucy Liu, and the giant bagel that I made for Sandy Cohen.

 don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened

I know it’s the middle of winter here in New Zealand and tucking into food that you’ve wilfully frozen seems counterproductive but let me remind you of one of life’s greatest pleasures: sitting on the floor in your underwear with the heater blasting artificial warmth your way as you merrily eat vast amounts of ice cream. The very minute I feel like not-nauseous again – and I hope I did an okay job of convincing you to make this sorbet in spite of my present lack of enthusiasm – this is what I’m going to do. I hope it’s soon.

If you liked the look of this you may also want to suss out my recipes for lemon poppyseed ice cream, quince sorbet, lychee and cucumber sorbet, and this cocoa sorbet recipe I blogged about in 2010 which inspired today’s recipe.

title from: Evanescense, Bring Me To Life. Do not come into my blog and imply that this song does not hold up. Also don’t not try to analyse whether all the double negatives I’ve used just now render my point meaningless. 

music lately:

Beyonce, Sorry. You can really just count on Beyonce, can’t you?  This is from her brilliant and important visual album Lemonade and if you haven’t watched it yet I strenuously insist that you make time for it; it’ll improve your life, no biggie.

The 1996 song Jellyhead by Crush was already fairly forgotten as far as 90s nostalgia goes but even more injurious, you could only find an amazingly cheap-sounding house remix on YouTube. Today I discovered this terrible quality version of the original song, and it’s honestly one of the best pop songs of all time and even though it sounds like it was recorded through a sock I’m so happy to hear the original again finally! (As in, for the first time since 1997-ish.) 

next time: I found this broth recipe that looks super cool, and as broth normally makes me all like “ah yes, lightly salted water” the fact that I’m interested in this recipe is surely indicative at all of its potential.