In the spirit of upcoming Valentine’s Day, I present to you: sauce, two ways. For ice cream. And romantic dinners. And all that stuff.
The first is my mother’s chocolate sauce. It is rich, straightforward and comforting. The second is salted butter caramel sauce. The recipe caused me a good deal of anxiety the first time I attempted it. This likely stemmed from the memory of my childhood home almost burning to the ground when a babysitter decided to make caramels with my brother. Needless to say, I proceeded cautiously with this sauce, wearing long sleeves to prevent burns and using a pot to which I didn’t have a strong attachment. My fears turned out to be totally unfounded, and getting over my caramel-related paranoia definitely increased the amount of deliciousness in my life. I highly recommend giving it a try.
Rich Chocolate Sauce
4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons of butter
2/3 cup of water
1 2/3 cup of sugar
6 tablespoons of light corn syrup
1 tablespoon of rum (optional)
Melt the chocolate and butter slowly in a heavy saucepan. Meanwhile, heat the water to boiling. When the chocolate and butter are melted, add water and stir well. Add the sugar and the corn syrup; mix until smooth.
Turn up the heat and stir until the mixture starts to boil. Adjust the heat to maintain it at the boiling point. Allow the mixture to boil, without stirring, for nine minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool for 15 minutes. Stir in the rum, if using.
Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
1 cup of sugar
6 tablespoons of good-quality salted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of heavy cream, at room temperature (if the cream is cold, the caramel will seize when you add it)
Melt the sugar over medium heat in a large, heavy pot (large is key, as the sauce foams up a lot when the cream is added). Stir the sugar as it melts to ensure even heating. Once the sugar is dissolved, stop stirring. Tilt and swirl the pan as necessary to ensure even heating. Cook the liquefied sugar until it is a rich amber color.
Stir in the butter. Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn off the heat and add the heavy cream; the sauce will foam up significantly. One way to prevent splattering during this step is to place a sieve over the top of the pot and pour the cream through the sieve. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Serve over ice cream, cake, tarts, pudding, or just eat with a spoon from the jar.
Both sauces will keep, refrigerated, for about two weeks. Since sauce thickens in the fridge, microwave it for a minute to bring it back to pouring consistency.
Each recipe makes just over a cup of sauce.