For my birthday, Eric took me to Paris. Well, not that Paris, but the one located about 15 minutes away, smack dab in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip. Got your attention, didn't I?
If you've never been to the Paris Hotel and Casino, it's definitely worth a visit the next time that you are in Vegas, if only for a cafe au lait and some profiteroles from the patisserie. They've really done a great job of recreating some of the things that make Paris, well, Paris. In fact, if you can ignore the several hundred slot machines, various game tables, and the tourists walking around with three-foot-tall margaritas, then you might actually feel like you are in the original city of lights. From the replica of the Arc de Triomphe that greets you as you pull into the entrance to the cobblestone walkways (here's a tip: not the best place to wear your four-inch stilettos), francophiles will feel at home here.
One of the best restaurants in Las Vegas is located several stories above the Strip, inside Paris's replica of the Eiffel Tower. If you're lucky, you'll score a table facing the floor-to-ceiling windows, which offer a stunning view of our city of lights (try to ignore all of the construction.) You would think that the food would play second fiddle to such surroundings, but each course more than held its own. Someone must have mentioned to someone at the restaurant that it was my birthday, because after our entree, our server brought out a selection of sorbets, my favorite, fashioned on a plate to look like the colors of a painter's palette. I thought that this was one of the more unique dessert presentations that I had seen, and we enjoyed every last bite (thankfully, I was spared any celabratory singing.) Our refreshing and not-too-heavy dessert inspired me to make some sorbet of my own, combining my two favorite sorbets from Friday's dinner. While this sorbet tastes very rich, you will see that it is actually quite lite. Bon Appetit! Here are a few extra tips for this deceptively decadent ice cream alternative:
- For an even lighter sorbet, substitute regular unsweetened coconut milk with a low-fat version and use unsweetened shredded coconut in place of the sweetened shredded coconut.
- Because the cocoa and chocolate flavors are so pronounced in this recipe, I recommend using a good quality chocolate. Many grocery stores now carry higher end chocolate bars, which are the perfect size for this recipe.
- If your cocoa powder is clumping, sift it prior to adding it to the coconut milk mixture. This will facilitate achieving a smooth texture.
- One the sorbet mixture has been made, it can be refrigerated overnight prior to freezing. The sorbet should keep well for up to 2 weeks, tightly covered in the freezer.
Rich Chocolate-Coconut Sorbet
Makes about 1 quart
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut (optional)
In a heavy saucepan, combine the coconut milk, water, sugar, and corn syrup. Place the saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to medium, bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Whisk in the cocoa and simmer for 2 minutes longer. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until it is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla and coconut extracts and then cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
Stir the cooled mixture and then freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. During the last few minutes of churning, add the shredded coconut to the mixture, if desired. When finished, the sorbet will be soft but ready to eat. For firmer sorbet, transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 2 hours.