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Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.
Today: Forgot to plan for dessert? Grab whatever chocolate is in your pantry and make a last-second sauce with Alice's simple 2-ingredient ratio.
You can make a fabulous dark chocolate sauce with any amount of sweetened dark, semisweet, or bittersweet chocolate you have on hand, regardless of cacao percentage, or even an assortment of leftover pieces of chocolate. All you need is a liquid such as milk, cream, half-and-half, or even a nondairy liquid like water, coffee, or coconut milk.
Then you taste and fine-tune with a pinch of salt, a few drops of vanilla, etc. The trick is knowing that you start with a small amount of liquid and add more as necessary until the sauce has the perfect consistency for your purpose. You can make a sauce that hardens like hot fudge over ice cream, or one that stays saucy and fluid. It’s up to you.
Any amount of dark, semisweet, or bittersweet chocolate (any cacao percentage), chopped medium fine
Milk, half and half, heavy cream or other liquid that tastes good with chocolate
Optional salt, vanilla extract, butter, sugar
Weigh the chocolate and put it in a stainless steel bowl. (If you don’t have a scale, figure that 1 cup of chocolate chopped medium fine weighs 6 ounces). Add 1 tablespoon of liquid for each ounce of chocolate. Set the bowl in the bottom of a wide skillet of barely simmering water and stir frequently until the chocolate is melted.
If the sauce looks curdled or too thick -- and it probably will if you are using a high percentage chocolate -- stir in more liquid gradually until the sauce is smooth and has the consistency you are looking for. If you are planning to serve the sauce over ice cream, spoon a little "test" over some ice cream to see if it hardens just the right amount, or too much. Adjust the sauce with more liquid as necessary.
When the sauce looks perfect, taste and consider adding a pinch of salt or a few drops of vanilla. If you have used a high percentage chocolate and a liquid that doesn’t have much fat in it, the flavor of the sauce will be fairly intense chocolate; you can mellow it if necessary by stirring in a little soft butter (a pat at a time) or a little sugar.
Once you’ve made this sauce once, you will do it again, completely by eye and by taste.
Use the warm sauce immediately, or rewarm it briefly in a pan of hot water when you need it. The sauce keeps in a covered container in the fridge for several days.
Alice's new book Seriously Bitter Sweet is a complete revision of her IACP award-winning Bittersweet, updated for the 54%, 61%, and 72% (and beyond) bars available today. It's packed with tricks, techniques, and answers to every chocolate question, plus 150 seriously delicious recipes -- both savory and sweet.
Photos by James Ransom