My goodness. I'm not going to use the weather as a conversation-starter anymore. I'm going to say, "Hello. My name is Sarah. Nice to meet you. How do you like your eggs?" It just might be one of the few (non-controversial) things all of us can enthusiastically chime in on.
Chocolate is today's conversation-starter. And I have a confession. All those magnets, bumper stickers and aprons for chocolate lovers have never spoken to me. If I'm out for dinner and ask for the dessert menu, it's not chocolate I'm hoping to see. I want a coconut dessert (which I absolutely cannot resist) or custard or something made from lemons. Pre-children, Yancey and I went on a week-long backpacking trip in the North Cascades. We ate freeze-dried soups and chunks of summer sausage and instant oats in the morning. At least 10 times a day, huffing up some hill or fording some stream, I'd say, "When we get back, I'm going straight to Gelatiamo for coconut gelato." And I did.
You might be getting the wrong idea, though. I love chocolate, and eat my share of it. Friends came for dinner the other night, all of us and the kids smooshed around our kitchen table. We eat three huge pans of Yancey's pizza, emptied lots of beer bottles, and still saved room for this crazy-rich sauce. I served it with dulce de leche ice cream, flaked salt, pretzels, and roasted almonds. It even gave coconut pies and lemon tarts a run for their money (and will take you five minutes to make).
Bittersweet Hot Fudge Sauce
From my (yellow) Gourmet cookbook. This is the kind of sauce that will firm up a bit when it hits the cold ice cream, making delightfully fudgy nubbins throughout. You can keep it in the fridge for at least a week, but I dare you to resist dipping a spoon in the pitcher every night. To rewarm it, put it in a saucpan and heat very gently over low heat.
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Bring cream, corn syrup, sugar, cocoa, salt, and half of chocolate to a boil in a 1 to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until chocolate is melted. Reduce heat and cook at a low boil, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla, and remaining chocolate and stir until smooth. Cool sauce to warm before serving.