Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Wonderful Chocolate Sauce

Over the last several months I saw, in three separate places, a
recipe for a chocolate sauce that seemed too simple to work well
yet it also seemed too simple to mess up. You melt some chocolate
and slowly add heavy cream.

I first saw this in a collection of old recipes from something
like "Farm Wife" magazine. Then I saw it as the filling in an
absurd recipe for "grilled chocolate sandwiches" in the New York
Times Magazine (spread this sauce between buttered bread and make
as grilled cheese -- from the photo it was obvious that one
bite of this sandwich would send streams of dark chocolate dribbling
down your shirt, even if you could somehow keep the chocolate inside
the bread as you grilled it). Then I saw it in Marion Cunningham's
revision of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and that clinched it;
I have learned to trust Marion Cunningham's recipes completely.
(Should you find her Breakfast Book buy it immediately.)

According to Marion Cunningham, you can use any kind of chocolate
you want (milk, dark, semi-sweet), but the key is to use good quality
chocolate. She suggested some of the imported candy bars you can find
now. My own sense is that you also must use real cream, by which I
mean cream that is not "ultra-pasteurized". I was surprised to find
out that there are areas of the country where it is difficult to obtain
cream that is not ultra-pasteurized. I don't say that you shouldn't
use this because of any specific knowledge of kitchen chemistry and what
happens in the ultra-pasteurization process, but out of the knowledge
of what this cream tastes like when compared to good regular cream.

I am fortunate enough to live where I can purchase cream that is not
only not ultrapasteurized, but is unhomogenized as well.Why unhomogenized
milk and cream are significantly better than homogenized is another story
for another time. Summarize it to say that I spent my life thinking I
didn't like milk as a beverage until I had unhomogenized milk. Homogenization
is one of those improvements that isn't.

Anyway, think about it: Good chocolate and good heavy cream. That's
what I mean by too simple to mess up.

Here's the other key: Get a double boiler. Double boilers have fallen
out of fashion over the last couple of decades, and seem to be difficult
to find. A foodie friend of mine says that this is because people use
microwaves now to melt butter and chocolate, and with a good quality
saucepan you don't really need a double boiler anyway. Hah! I need
a little more non-mess-up assurance than can be found in a good quality
saucepan. I need the guarantee that I won't burn or curdle something,
the guarantee that only a double boiler offers.

Just before Christmas I had two families over for a simple dinner. For dessert
I served some ice cream and I made this chocolate sauce. I melted 8 oz. of
good semi-sweet chocolate in a double-boiler, stirred it up, then very slowly
added half a cup of fresh heavy cream as I continued to stir. I did this
over an hour before we actually had dessert, but all I did when we were ready
for it was set the boiler a-boiling again until the sauce was hot; this didn't
seem to hurt the texture. I poured the chocolate into a gravy boat and stuck in
a spoon.

Oh my gosh, was this a success! One of the guests had seconds (and possibly
thirds) of just the chocolate sauce alone. (Granted this was a teenager, but
it is a teenager who is not really a big sweet-tooth bad food junkie.) One of
the guests claimed not to use chocolate sauce when the ice cream is good, as a
rule, but with this sauce he just slathered it on.(There are several brands of
really good quality ice cream available locally, including one from the dairy
that produces the unhomogenized cream). When you spooned this warm sauce over
the cold ice cream, it created a small layer of sugar crystals between the ice
cream and the sauce. This was tasty;

So now I have something reliable to serve for dessert that I don't have to
prepare in advance (like a cheesecake).

A few days later I realized that I had cream in my refrigerator and ice cream
in my freezer and I also happened to have about 3 oz. of some Ghiradelli chocolate.
So I got out the double boiler and threw the small bit of chocolate in, not even
bothering to stir it (well, in truth, I got distracted and didn't consider how
quickly such a small amount would melt). Suddenly it was completely melted, so
I added a bit of cream (not even bothering to measure) and stirred it in all at
once. Even with this casual approach it was just delicious over a bowl of vanilla
ice cream.

Someday I may try to make real hot fudge sauce, with butter and sugar and vanilla
and cocoa and milk. I may get a good heavy-bottomed saucepan so I can control
the heat and cook like a real chef. But I am here to claim that a good chocolate
bar melted in cream lacks for nothing.
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