In honor of Valentine's Day, I'll give you a yummy (and quick and easy) chocolate recipe in a minute, but first...
SCANDAL IN SKIBBEREEN IS #11 ON THE NEW YORK TIMES PAPERBACK BESTSELLER LIST!
(Okay, I'll stop shouting now)
You can’t have too many chocolate recipes, right? Especially not at this time of year, when after shoveling the last batch of snow you want something warm and comforting.
My mother’s Sunday Dinner with the Relatives menu seldom varied. These occurred every three weeks on average—my grandmother lived in Manhattan and in the years when we lived in New Jersey (which coincided with the years when I learned to cook) she enjoyed getting out of the city into the “country.” After a while the step-grands (the Swedish ones) were added to the mix, but the menu didn’t change.
It went like this: standing rib roast (two ribs), cooked rare. (Would you believe I’ve never tried to cook one? Of course, now it would take a third mortgage to afford one.) Potatoes. Something green (beans or broccoli). And for dessert, vanilla ice cream with home-made chocolate sauce.
Part of the charm of this dessert was the bowls, which I inherited (you’ll see them later). But I remember the suspense when my mother made the sauce at the last minute (must be served hot!), because there was always the risk that it would crystalize and be ruined. Or turn into sticky candy. I think this instilled a long-standing fear of cooking with chocolate in me, at least until microwaves came along and it became much easier to melt the stuff. And back then, there was Baker’s Chocolate, period. Milk or dark, but no fancy gourmet brands.
The recipe originated in the trusty battered (ooh, a food pun!) Fanny Farmer cookbook that was my mother’s first (I inherited it). You can see from the page that it has seen much wear—and also that she amended the recipe.
But then, amongst the recipe cards from about the same era, in her own hand, is yet another variation of the recipe ingredients! Is that the ultimate version?
Anyway, here goes:HOT CHOCOLATE SAUCE
2 squares (2 oz.) unsweetened chocolate (use whatever brand you prefer)
2 Tblsp butter
1/2 cup boiling water
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup light Karo syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
|My heirloom double boiler|
Add the butter and stir until melted, then add the boiling water gradually, stirring continuously.
|Butter and water added|
Raise the heat, then add the sugar and the corn syrup. Cook at high heat (as high as a double boiler will go, anyway) for about five minutes—make sure the sugar is dissolved.
Cool slightly, then add vanilla and salt.My mother used to make this right before we sat down at the dining table for the main course, and leave it in the double-boiler over low heat until it was time for dessert. She would serve it over vanilla ice cream—and here’s where the dishes come into play. You will notice there’s a nice deep well in the bottom, so the scoops of ice cream sat over it, and when you poured the sauce on top, you had a handy little reservoir of warm sauce waiting for you on the bottom.
It tastes just the way I remember it. I hope my mother is pleased!
Ah yes, there's this book that came out last week--yup, that one, the BEST SELLER. No chocolate that I can recall, but surely there would have been some at tea in the manor house?