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Food: How (Not) to Make Chocolate Sauce

October 22, 2010

All day yesterday I had visions of an ice cream sundae. A big, fat, fluffy ice cream sundae with chocolate sauce and berries and whipped cream.  As the day wore on I decided that instead of just buying some chocolate sauce and making regular whipped cream, I was going to make a real production of this sundae. I was going to make fancy homemade chocolate sauce and fresh rose sugared whipped cream and vanilla ice cream with blackberries mixed in. Oh yeah.

I started with the sauce. I don’t cook much with chocolate, but I found what appeared to be a very simple recipe in The Silver Palate and assembled the ingredients. I chose this moment to conveniently forget that cooking with chocolate is basically baking, a craft I have not yet the skill or patience with to perform to any level of competency.

Recipe for What Should Be Very Easy Homemade Chocolate Sauce:

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons corn syrup
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon rum or vanilla extract

Not too many ingredients, should be a piece of cake, right?

Wrong! Sit back and behold the steps to my spectacular failure.

1. Melt the chocolate and the butter very slowly, stirring frequently until combined.
Don’t get distracted by your dirty dishes or your blackberry or your pile of mail or your baking-induced ADD. Not that you would, but I did. Which led to the chocolate being a teeny bit burned already after step 1.

so promising...

2. Stir mixture into the boiling water.
Um, I figured the pot with the chocolate was bigger than the pot with the water. So…shouldn’t I just stir the water into the chocolate instead of what the recipe suggested? No, I should not have.

already burned, already a weird texture

3. Add the sugar, corn syrup, and salt, and mix until smooth.
I knew in my heart that canola oil was not a good substitute for corn syrup. But I had forgotten to buy corn syrup. And all I had was canola oil. And I was already halfway through this already halfway failed exercise. So I figured, press on.

a puddle of oil in already burned chocolate.

4. Turn the heat up and stir until mixture starts to boil; adjust heat so sauce stays at the boiling point, stirring occasionally.
But, if yellow foam starts to rise, probably there is no more saving this sauce. And also maybe you’ve kick- started the apocalypse.

a sign the end is near

5. Allow sauce to boil for nine minutes. Remove from heat, cool for 15 minutes. Stir in rum or vanilla, serve over ice cream.
Nope, nope, and nope. Examine crispy, oily, burned mess, take picture for blog post formerly titled “Chocolate Sauce is Easy!” then throw sauce in trash. Voila!

trash time!

Well, at least I still had the cream to whip, and the fancy rose sugar from my trip to London three years ago (sugar doesn’t go bad, does it?). I did get my sundae, though it wasn’t quite the fat, fluffy masterpiece I had envisioned. But it was still delicious.

still good, sans chocolate


now whipped cream, i can do

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