The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

vegan chocolate, olive oil and smoked sea salt sorbet

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The chocolate industry is worth over $100 billion per year.

Most of that chocolate is manufactured and consumed in the USA and Europe, although the raw cocoa from which is produced is grown thousands of miles away on the west coast of Africa.

The biggest exporter of cocoa is the Ivory Coast. When the Ivory Coast achieved independence, back in 1960, a quarter of the country was covered in dense rainforest. It was home to a huge range of wildlife, with one of the highest rates of biodiversity across the African continent.

Today, less than 4% of the Ivory coast remains covered by rainforest and the numbers of some once-thriving species, including chimpanzees and elephants, are dwindling dangerously.

Ivory coast’s deforestation, much of it illegal, has been precipitated by the chocolate industry. The Director of Ivory Coast’s Forest Reserve Protection Agency has estimated that 40% of Ivorian cocoa is grown illegally in what are supposed to be protected areas of remaining forestland.

A recently published report reveals that three of the world’s biggest cocoa traders, Carghill, Olam and Barry Callebaut – have been encouraging this practice by buying cocoa grown illegally from these protected areas. Amongst the products that use cocoa provided by these three companies are Mars, Hershey, Ferrero, Cadburys, Toblerone, Milka, Terry’s, Côte d’Or, Freia, Marabou and Fry’s.

Please consider signing this petition calling on chocolate companies to agree to stop using illegally grown cocoa in their products.

Unless and until they do so you might want to consider boycotting their products.

On to the recipe, which uses ethically sourced, organic chocolate.

I have created this recipe in association with Suma Wholefoods Cooperative.

Under the terms of our arrangement, every couple of months I select products from the Suma Wholefoods range which Suma provide free of charge. From these I create an original recipe which appears on the Suma website as well here, on the Circus Gardener’s Kitchen.

Chocolate and sea salt is a delightful combination. So, for that matter is sea salt and smoke.

What better way to pull them all together than in a delicious silky soft-scoop sorbet, which despite its opulence and indulgence is vegan, gluten-free and free from refined sugar. The olive oil and dark chocolate give the sorbet an extraordinarily light, almost mousse-like quality.

vegan chocolate, olive oil and smoked sea salt sorbet


180 g vegan chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
50 g organic cocoa powder
150 ml brown rice syrup
40 ml extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp smoked sea salt
1 tsp organic vanilla essence

to serve

pinch smoked sea salt


1. Place the cocoa powder in a saucepan and add the brown rice syrup and 50 ml water. Place over a low heat and whisk to combine, making sure there are no lumps of cocoa. Bring the mixture to a simmer then remove from the heat and whisk in the pieces of chocolate, followed by the olive oil and vanilla essence and a further 150 ml of cold water. Whisk together a smooth, glossy consistency.

2. Leave the mixture to cool to room temperature. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn. As soon as the sorbet is starting to set, add the smoked salt crystals. Once these have been incorporated, tip the sorbet into a freezer proof container. Cover the container with a lid and freeze for at least 4 hours.

3. Remove the sorbet from the freezer 15-20 minutes before serving. If you wish, serve it with a little drizzle of little olive oil and a few smoked sea salt flakes

Categories: dairy free, gluten free, vegan

Tags: , ,

26 replies

  1. Thanks for this. I already boycott those products and am pleased to be able to sign the petition. The recipe looks sensational.

  2. Maple syrup or brown rice syrup, Steve?

  3. Can I add, Steve, that though I usually appreciate your informative posts, I’m going to find it hard to give up Ferraro Rocher. I love those chocolate balls.

  4. Very interesting recipe you have here Steve!Really loved your spoons too!

  5. It’s the little things we do which make the biggest changes in the world. 😀

  6. I am not vegan and know as a professional that under 1% of people need to be gluten-free. But I do find your sorbet recipe quite delightful and healthy and shall make it for certain using ordinary 70% + chocolate. I am a pragmatist. Yes, the forests of Ghana and Ivory Coast et al should not have been cleared – they were. Yes, many poor animals have suffered. But at this stage no one will be able or willing to differentiate the ‘legal’ from the so-called ‘illegal’ and the business is simply too lucrative and attractive for any change to be made. I am afraid, sorry as I am to say it, that this is one petition [and I have worked on hundreds] that has a snowball’s chance in hell of getting anywhere. To my mind it is simply not feasible from the viewpoint of the manufacturer or the consumer 🙂 ! Sorry, Steve, but I have been in business all my life and I think I can tell the difference . . . and, if you are still talking to me, a very happy New Year to you and yours !!

    • Hi Eha, thanks for your comments, and happy new year to you. We don’t agree on this, but that’s every reason to keep talking to each other!

      To be successful this campaign may well need to go beyond simply signing a petition, and be escalated into direct consumer action. This will hit the big chocolate companies where it hurts most: in their sales. However, I expect these companies are already feeling very sensitive about the adverse publicity they are receiving.

      There are plenty of examples of consumer campaigns bearing fruit. For example, Nestle, another big chocolate manufacturer, agreed to implement a zero deforestation policy in relation to its palm oil supply after a campaign of pressure from consumers a few years back. An article in the UK’s Financial Times reflecting on the outcome to that campaign warned companies that “showing leadership on sustainability is becoming a business imperative”.

      We consumers have far more power than we imagine! Steve

  7. Love to taste your good recipe

  8. Interesting use of olive oil in sorbet. And thanks for the tip on chocolate producers. I had no idea.

  9. I’m a convert to the boycott and extremely fussy about where chocolate is sourced. This is quite hard to achieve in the home of mousse au chocolat and eye-wateringly tempting other puds and pâtisserie but it must be done. I have signed the petition and will share it on FaceBook as a reminder to those that follow me there.

  10. Great recipe with finest ingredients !

  11. Love this recipe! What type of olive oil do you recommend (for example “peppery” or “grassy”) ?

    • Thank you Maikki. From the question I suspect you may be something of a connoisseur when it comes to olive oil, but in this dish the main flavour comes from the chocolate and the smoked salt. The oil is essentially there to provide texture, so any good quality, organic, olive oil would work fine. 🙂

  12. I had a similar dessert in a small restaurant on the island of Hvar with their own olive oil, it was such a lovely treat 🙂

  13. Wow! this is so stunning and I’m salivating from looking ta the photo. This is my PMS-dream come true 🙂

  14. OMG! It looks amazing! Next party I`m treating everyone!

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