Sunday, March 7, 2010

- Oh fudge!

I am absolutely, undeniably, no-doubt-about-it addicted to chocolate. Gotta have it … every day … just a little bit. Okay, sometimes more than a little bit. Hey, I’ve heard chocolate is actually good for you and until it’s proven otherwise, I’m inclined to believe it.

And so, in a conversation over dinner at the Cool Mint Café last night (a wonderfully spontaneous trek to San Marcos with our Garrison Trail neighbors), I mentioned my Mom’s hot fudge sauce with a fair degree of enthusiasm. Incredibly easy to make, it was the topping of choice on Hildebrandt’s hand-dipped vanilla ice cream when I was growing up. These days, I must confess that I sometimes make microwave ganache as an even quicker route to chocolate bliss when the vanilla Häagen-Dazs is looking lonely.

Then there’s the fudge I made for the first time this week. Inspired by a New York Times Dining section recipe, which I changed of course, it received rave reviews when passed around to my colleagues at the Alkek Library. So, without further ado, I present chocolate three ways: sauce, ganache, and fudge. May you eat them all in good health.

Mom’s Hot Fudge Sauce

2 ounces unsweetened (baking) chocolate
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup water

The original recipe calls for cooking the sauce slowly over medium heat until satiny smooth (5-10 minutes of constant stirring). It can also be made in the microwave by alternately nuking it on high for one minute, then stirring, nuking for another minute, stirring, and finishing with another 30 seconds if needed before stirring it to its final satin glory.

Lazy Ganache Sauce

2 Tbs. heavy cream
1/3 cup Ghirardelli 60% Cacao bittersweet chocolate chips

Nuke the cream for 30 seconds. Stir in the chips until melted. Done.

I-did-it-my-way Fudge

12 ounce bag of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
4 ounces unsweetened (baking) chocolate
4 Tbs. butter
14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
Generous ½ cup of walnut pieces

Line an 8x8 pan with waxed paper. Melt the first four ingredients over hot water in a double boiler (you must own one of these … they are indispensable … more recipes to follow). Stir constantly (having a phone conversation at the same time is not recommended).  Fold in walnuts, pour into 8x8 pan. Refrigerate until set. Take out of pan and peel off the waxed paper. Cut into ¾” squares (they’re too rich to be any bigger … besides, you can always eat two).

And though I haven’t tried it yet, I’m thinking that toasted hazelnuts could substitute for the walnuts. Another possible variation: a sprinkling of grey sea salt. Ah … life is good when you have something to look forward to.