The best dessert I’ve ever had in my entire life was blessed with a scoop of Blackberry Cabernet Sorbet on top of it. I’ll never forget it as long as I live. There used to be this little Italian bistro in Downtown San Jose, CA called Stratta Grill and Bar. They had the BEST food there. It was a quaint little bistro with made from scratch ravioli, gnocchi and of course, the most incredible dessert. It was an intimate place with dim mood lighting, and a little candle on every table. These were the days before iPhones, Facebook, people getting offended by everything, and Donald Trump was still just a businessman with a bad tan and weird hair, he hadn’t even fired anyone on national TV yet.
It was the early aughts and it was the first time in my life that I’d ever been really on my own. I had a little one bedroom apartment on 10th and San Fernando with original hardwood floors and a gas range. It was almost more Melrose Place than Melrose Place. I went to look at the apartment for the first time in the dark. The electricity had been shut off since it was vacant, and like I mentioned before, there were no cell phones with flashlight apps. The ambient light from the street lights would have to do. I fell in love with the arched doorways and windows immediately and even though I had no idea what color the floor tiles were in the kitchen or bathroom, I signed the lease and wrote a check for the deposit on the spot. Man I loved that apartment. I had a terrible parking space, the laundry was three floors down in the super creepy basement, I had a strong suspicion that there was a dead rat rotting behind my closet wall and the apartment would always smell funny after it rained, but it was the best place I’d ever lived up to that point. It was a great time to be alive. I was in my early 20’s after all. The world was my oyster.
So this dessert with the Blackberry Cabernet Sorbet on top was simple enough in theory. It was a Molten Chocolate Lava Cake cooked to perfection, graced with a single scoop of Blackberry Cabernet Sorbet on top. At first glance the dessert wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. I mean it was beautiful because I knew what warm gooey chocolate center awaited me. It looked simplistic and to the point, but nothing could have prepared me for that first bite. In that moment, the Heaven’s and the Earth collided. It was like pure joy, bliss, and awe all blended into one emotion. It was like there had never been a human tragedy that had ever existed in the entire history of time. The Holocaust and 9/11 had never happened and the world was alive and flowing in perfect harmony. I’m not exaggerating. So I took another bite and another. I don’t think I even spoke the entire time I was eating. I savored every spoonful and dissected the different flavor complexities like I was writing an article in a scientific journal on the subject. I just wanted to enjoy every second of the experience. I wanted to imprint the melding of warm chocolate cake and cold tart sorbet on my tongue for all eternity. This was every single human experience in one single bite.
Little did I know in that moment, but this dessert would set the standard for all desserts to come for the rest of my life. You may think that’s a lot of pressure for one little dessert, but it’s stood the test of time. To the best of my ability I have tried to recreate this dessert in a healthier way. My Molten Chocolate Lava cake is gluten-free, grain-free, and refined sugar free, and this sorbet uses real ingredients to bring the color, flavor, and texture of it to life. Sure, if I had some white flour and sugar, I could probably re-create the dessert more true to memory, but this version will do just fine. Until this dessert and I meet again in Heaven, this is all I have.
- 2 (6-ounce/170-g) cartons fresh blackberries
- 1 cup (240 ml) cabernet sauvignon
- 1 cup (240 ml) water
- ½ cup (65 g) maple sugar
- 2 tablespoons raw honey
- 2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ cup (33 g) fresh raspberries (optional)
- Special equipment: Ice cream maker
- Combine all the ingredients in the pitcher of a blender. Cover with the lid and puree until well blended and combined. Pour the mixture over a fine-mesh sieve into a medium-sized mixing bowl. The sieve will catch any seeds. Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the mixture and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours or until cool. Alternately you can place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until cool.
- Pour the cooled mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn it, following the manufacturer’s instructions. If you want firmer ice cream, transfer the ice cream to a container, cover, and place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until the desired firmness is reached. Store in a covered container for up to 2 weeks.
- I like to include raspberries in this sorbet because it brightens the color and adds a subtle tartness that I love, to even out the sweetness of the blackberries. They are completely optional. I also recommend using fresh instead of frozen berries because the frozen ones will make the texture more like a smoothie, which may not work well in your ice cream maker. Another option for frozen berries would be to let them thaw and drain any excess juices or water.
- To enjoy on a cone you can buy a gluten-free brand like Goldbaum’s or Let’s Do . . . Gluten-Free Sugar Cones. You can also make your own!