Please Pass the Recipe

sharing recipes from one generation to the next

Gelato Messina’s Chocolate Sorbet


I am not intending this post to be a book review nor am I attempting to teach ice cream making chemistry but it’s impossible to write a post about this truly remarkable chocolate sorbet recipe without mentioning both.

A visit to Gelato Messina in Smith St Collingwood (also in two locations in Sydney) is like a pilgrimage to the ice cream gods. You feel a sense of awe looking at the myriad coloured and textured gelato and sorbets. Trying to choose, you seek help from a higher power and tasting, offered free to help make a choice, sends you into ecstasy. Enlightenment comes when you realise not only can you buy a delicious scoop to enjoy immediately, but there is an eponymous book that shares the recipes for those cold creamy delights.

And so it was that I read the secrets to making unctuous creamy Sicilian style gelato.

Australian Nick Palumbo was awakened to a love of food by his Sicilian Grandfather from the village of Messina. After years of working in the food industry he followed a dream to bring authentic creamy Sicilian gelato to Australia. I’m sure his Nonno would be very proud.

Gelato Messina the book is technical, but after some very ordinary results attempting creamy sorbets and gelati I need all the help I could get. I’ll explain briefly what I have learned.

Water forms the greatest volume in gelato and sorbet whether it is milk, cream, fruit juice or water. It’s important to find a way to stop water freezing into ice crystals when you make gelato so you need to use ingredients that will absorb or bind to the water.

Sugar acts like anti freeze, it lowers the freezing point, but it also gives the illusion of warmth making it possible to eat gelato without recoiling. Dextrose*, a secondary sugar has only 70% of the sweetness of sugar, but it has the ability to reduce the freezing point, making the gelato less sweet and softer at serving. Maltodextrin*, yet another form of sugar, has great binding properties but virtually no sweetness. Like cornflour, it helps bind excess water when few solids are present.

Xantham gum* is a stabiliser commonly used in gluten free cooking. It is a natural product derived from fermentation. It has the ability to absorb up to ten times it’s weight in water. It gives flexibility to the frozen sorbet.

The recipes call for precision with measurements, temperatures and times. They appear daunting, but I was surprised and relieved how quickly the mixture heated and cooled. I spent a max of 20 minutes hands on preparing the sorbet. The remainder of the time was curing, churning, freezing.

We were amazed by the rich unctuous texture of this chocolate sorbet. It was creamy, rich, barely sweet, almost chewy and totally free of ice crystals.

Pure alchemy, absolute perfection!

Gelato Messina’s Chocolate Sorbet

650g water

200g castor sugar

60g dextrose*

25g maltodextrin*

5g xantham gum*

60g unsweetened cocoa powder

Firstly put the bowl of your ice cream churn into the freezer.

Measure the water into a double boiler over a low heat.

Weigh the dry ingredient into a bowl and whisk together until thoroughly combined.

When the water reaches 40C, whisk in the powders. Whisk the mixture continuously while it heats to 85C.

Transfer the mixture to a stainless steel bowl and place it in an ice water bath. Chill to 40C.

Cover the bowl tightly with foil and place it in the freezer until the temperature drops to 4C. Whisk every 10 minutes or so to prevent the edges from freezing.

One the mixture has reached 4C, place the bowl in the fridge for 4+ hours to cure.

Turn on your ice cream churn to drop the temperature to freezing point.

Using a stick blender, process the mixture for 1 minute then pour it into the ice cream churn.

Churn until the temperature drops to -4C then scoop the sorbet into a stainless steel tray and freeze for 2-3 hours, before serving.

The recipe advises not to freeze the sorbet over night as the texture will be compromised. Yes the reminders of the sorbet froze hard, but after 40 minutes in the fridge it was scoopable, smooth and still much, much better than any previous sorbet I had ever made. The proof is in the photo. I was extra happy.

*In Melbourne, dextrose, maltodextrin and xantham gum can be bought at the Essential Ingredient


About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

18 comments on “Gelato Messina’s Chocolate Sorbet

  1. Pingback: In My Sorbetto Kitchen – My Kitchen Witch

  2. Pingback: Luscious Strawberry Sorbet | Please Pass the Recipe

  3. Pingback: Gelato Lesson – My Kitchen Witch

  4. Pingback: My Top Ten Recipes for 2015 | Please Pass the Recipe

  5. Pingback: Frozen: More Unexpected Results | My Kitchen Witch

  6. Pingback: The Art & Science of Gelato Making, Sicilian Style | My Kitchen Witch

  7. 365dniwobiektywielg
    March 20, 2015



  8. My Kitchen Witch
    March 18, 2015

    Mea Culpa! I am so overdue on my WP reading assignments… Although, I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now and can only say that you are a marvel at cracking one of the most difficult things to do in a home kitchen – a successful sorbet. I know it is all about keeping the crystal formation to the smallest possible size with manipulation of sweeteners and emulsifiers. Do you think this can be done with the regular ingredients you find in your cupboards? And, just a little aside – dextrose is also called glucose.


    • ladyredspecs
      March 19, 2015

      No other sorbet I have made has been as smooth, unctious and ice crystal free as this recipe. I’ve come to the conclusion that the special ingredients make the difference. I’ll try a milky version next time I dip into the book.


  9. thehungrymum
    March 15, 2015

    Am only person on planet not to have tried Messina but this post is making me hungry ;0


  10. cheergerm
    March 12, 2015

    Having eaten at Gelato Messina, I can attest to its greatness. This looks spectacular Mrs R. Kid 1 has been bugging me to get back to making ice-cream, we will but it won’t be to this calibre. Although I do have the xanthum gum, ha!


  11. MamaD1xx4xy
    March 12, 2015

    Gelato and sorbet, two of my favorites. With the temps climbing to 85 Fahrenheit today this looks incredible!


    • ladyredspecs
      March 12, 2015

      This sorbet requires your undivided attention for a short space of time, but it’s wonderfully smooth and creamy


  12. Margot @ Gather and Graze
    March 11, 2015

    Looks wonderful Sandra! I’m always up for a little gelato/sorbet! Mmm!


  13. vannillarock
    March 11, 2015

    Yum- this looks like a keeper:)


  14. Francesca
    March 11, 2015

    I think I’ll try one at his shop. This sounds too daunting.


    • ladyredspecs
      March 11, 2015

      Once you’ve tasted Gelato Messina, believe me you’ll want to make it at home. It sound much harder to make than it was.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on March 11, 2015 by in Dairy Free, Desserts, FODMAP diet, Food, Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Light dessert and tagged , , .
%d bloggers like this: