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Chocolate to Soothe the Soul

July 7, 2012
Homemade Chocolate Sauce

Homemade Chocolate Sauce

This post has to be about chocolate. I originally had in mind a fresh and lively summer salad made from grilled corn and an amazing basil-lime dressing, but today just isn’t the day for that salad. I will share it with you, soon. But for now, indulging in a dessert that soothes in only the way that chocolate can is what I need, so it’s what you’re getting too.

There are times in life when something big comes to you – a promotion, an opportunity, a relationship – and you feel like you deserve it because you have worked hard or waited so long for that moment to happen. There are also times in life when you feel like  the universe is being unbelievably generous by just dropping something wonderful right at your feet. Maybe there were choices you made that led you to this place where you were open to everything the universe had to offer, or maybe for a split second in life, you got really lucky.

This split second for me was in the last few months of 2002 when I had just graduated from culinary school, was living in New York, and had lucked into a restaurant internship where my job consisted of  pairing wine and cheese (I still can’t believe that’s really a job). Luckier still, it was because of this internship that I met a woman who inspired me in a way that no one I’d worked with had inspired me before. This was partly because she was such a strong female presence in an industry that still felt so unfairly dominated by men, but mostly because she was lovely in every possible way. Smart, funny, fearless, outspoken, and at all times completely herself. There didn’t seem to be a work version of her and a personal version; she was who she was all of the time. I wanted to live my life like she lived hers. Honestly, happily and boldly.

Last week, she died, very unexpectedly for me but also for those who knew her much, much better than I did and had just a few short months to digest her diagnosis of cancer. It’s been ten years since the brief time when she inspired me and left such a lasting impression and yet her death really feels like losing a friend. Her influence was wide in the world of food and especially meaningful for those of us obsessed with cheese. I know there are many, many other people who hardly knew her and yet were profoundly influenced by her enthusiasm, knowledge and generosity. Even after her death I find myself still learning from and being inspired by her words, that her husband shared last week : “I have lived a full and rich life, full of love.  I have made my own decisions and I created the life I wanted to live.  I owned my life”.

And so, today, chocolate. Not only because chocolate is what I turn to when I need to be soothed, but also because it reminds me of Daphne, a woman who frequently convinced me to sneak out of the restaurant with her during our shift and run out to buy chocolate at the little bodega down the street. You can read more about her life and influence in a New York Times obituary. And in the spirit of Daphne, you can take a moment today to indulge in something chocolatey and wonderful, just because.

Homemade Chocolate Sauce, to be poured on anything you desire

This recipe is very similar to one that my mom use to make when I was a kid. We always had a jar of chocolate sauce in the refrigerator that was often poured over a bowl of vanilla ice cream before bedtime. It keeps pretty much forever and has fewer questionable ingredients than store-bought chocolate sauce does.As it turns out, it is also very similar to one used by David Lebovitz who shares amazing recipes and very helpful cooking tips on his website, Living the Sweet Life in Paris.

Ingredients:
Total Cooking Time: 15 minutes or so, plus the sauce needs a few hours to cool completely

1 cup of water
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons honey (or white corn syrup)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 of a 3.5 ounce dark chocolate bar, cut into small pieces

Instructions:

Over medium heat, whisk together the water, sugar, honey and cocoa powder. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn off the heat and slowly add the chopped chocolate, whisking to make sure it melts completely. Let the sauce cool for several hours then transfer to an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 10, 2012 12:20 pm

    How beautifully written Jennifer. I revere people like Daphne who live a life so true to themselves. This post has inspired me and makes me glad I subscribe to your posts. 🙂

  2. MOM permalink
    July 16, 2012 9:09 pm

    What a wonderful and sad story, Jenny! You inspire me:)

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