Back in March we spent a week in St. Lucia. As well as making it a blissful place to flop flat out and drink cocktails, the blazing sunshine gives the island the perfect climate to grow sweet bananas, pineapples, papaya and coconuts. Every day at the beach the same elderly man would walk past touting the ‘best water in the world’, and each time he cracked open a fresh coconut and inserted a straw I felt like we’d escaped into a Bounty advert (minus the dodgy ’80s hair and make up).
Perhaps best known for its bananas, St. Lucia is becoming increasingly famous for chocolate. Just behind our hotel was the Rabot estate, the cocoa plantation which produces the beans from which Hotel Chocolat chocolate is made. The rich, volcanic soil between the two ‘pitons’ or peaks of the island allows cocoa trees to thrive and during the course of the week we must have eaten a different chocolate dessert every day.
Chocolate and coconut are a match made in heaven and with several glorious days of Spring sunshine under our belts it felt like time to bring out the ice cream machine. I first served this coconut sorbet for Easter lunch over vanilla roasted rhubarb with ginger nut crumbs, but delicious as it was I knew the sorbet needed a second outing accompanied by chocolate. I like to pretend that as I’ve got older my palate has moved towards fruit desserts, but on this occasion these chocolate-coated bars have stolen my childish heart.
The sorbet recipe comes from the king of ice cream*, Jacob Kennedy, whose Gelupo gelateria in Soho serves the creamiest coconut sorbet I have ever had the pleasure of eating. In his Bocca di Lupo cookbook, Jacob offers a choice of creaming fresh coconut flesh or using pre-made milk and as I’m back in London not lounging under a coconut palm, I plumped for the latter. I’m pretty sure if you went with the flesh option these bars would come even closer to Gelupo perfection.
*disclaimer: I still pledge allegiance to David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop as my all-time ice cream bible. Perhaps that makes David the god, and Jacob the king? Either way, both men know their ice cream.
- 250ml water
- 190g caster sugar, divided
- 90g glucose syrup or very light honey, divided
- 3g leaf gelatine or 4 tsp agar agar
- 600g coconut milk
- 400g good quality dark chocolate
- 1 heaped tbsp coconut oil
- To make the sorbet, bloom the gelatine by soaking in cold water for 5 minutes.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the water, 150g sugar and 50g glucose syrup and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat immediately then squeeze the water out of the gelatine and add to the syrup, stirring until smooth If using agar agar, sprinkle over the syrup and leave to hydrate for 5 minutes before stirring to dissolve. Allow to cool completely.
- Transfer the syrup to a food processor, along with the coconut milk, remaining sugar and glucose syrup. Blitz until smooth then churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Transfer the churned sorbet to eight ice cream bar moulds (I use these). Freeze until firm.
- To make the coating, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Line a tray that will fit in your freezer with baking parchment. Remove the sorbet bars from their moulds.
- One at a time, dip the bars into the melted chocolate, spooning it down the sides to coat completely. Allow any excess chocolate to drip off then place on the prepared tray.
- Once all the bars are coated, place the tray in the freezer for 30 minutes. After this you can serve the sorbet bars or wrap in greaseproof paper and return to the freezer until ready to eat. Will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for several weeks.