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Ramping up for the hols. Plus... chocolate sauce recipe! Score!

2008-12-22 - 10:33 p.m.

Tomorrow I will be whipping myself into a frenzy of last-minute preparation for the holidays so I figured Iíd better post tonight.

Presents bought? Check.
Presents wrapped? Mostly check.
Menu planned for relatives descending Christmas eve? Check.
Prep work executed for said menu? Again, mostly check.
House clean? Um, well, hereís where it starts to fall apartÖ

Actually, itís not that bad, itís just that I feel like thereís only just this tiny part of this to do, and only a little bit of that, etc., etc. until I suspect that all these small last-minute chores are going to lead to full-blown panic by mid-Wednesday morning. AND, I mailed my sister her bus ticket last Tuesday and she STILL hasnít gotten it and sheís supposed to be stepping onto said bus on Wednesday, i.e., the day after tomorrow. Gak!

So the menu of which I spoke is, actually, a very easy one. Iím making a homemade potato-cheese soup to which Iím going to try adding some smoked cod if I can get it (the grocery store was almost out yesterday when it was still too early to buy it), and Iím also making the hot fudge sauce from scratch, but everything else is easy-peasy since it mostly consists of store-bought hot nibbles, and ice cream with the fudge sauce and cookies for dessert. The cookie dough will be made by myself and Grommet that morning, then weíll pop them in the oven when people are here so that it smells good and we can leave some out for Santa that night.

Iíve made a few batches of this chocolate sauce lately, and itís been a huge hit. Itís sort of a combination of the Hot Fudge Sauce and the Chocolate Sauce recipes from a cookbook called Beat This by Ann Hodgman. I use a semi-sweet chocolate instead of bitter so I donít add as much sugar, and I usually use Kahlua instead of dry sherry, though last time I hived off mini-amounts to experiment and enjoyed it equally well with peppermint extract, amaretto, and orange-flavoured sherry, though would go with something a bit more truly orange-y next time for a definitive chocolate-orange taste.

Interested? Here it is. Consider it my present to you:

100 grams decent semi-sweet chocolate (or a little more is fine if youíve got a 4 oz bar)
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
pinch salt
ľ cup Kahlua (also good: amaretto, sherry, peppermint extract (this one to taste, since it would be WAY too much to put ľ cup of peppermint extract), etc. Would probably be good with any liqueur that has a flavour you enjoy with chocolate, e.g. any nut-flavoured liqueur, cherry brandy, etc.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir pretty much constantly throughout this entire process. Just pretend it's risotto. Yummy, silky, chocolate risotto. Yeah, that's it...
- On the very lowest heat setting, slowly melt the butter and chocolate.
- Add sugar, cream and salt. (Still stirring? Good.)
- Turn up heat slightly and bring to gentle boil, then reduce heat again to low.
- Stir for about 15 minutes while at low boil then turn off heat but donít remove pan from stove.
- Stir in booze/flavour extract and vanilla.
- Let sit until it cools from hot to warm to allow alcohol to evaporate.

Serve over ice cream. I also like this over a banana. Or straight from the spoon.
If thereís any left, store in a jar in the refrigerator.
I warn you, you may never be satisfied with store-bought chocolate sauce on your ice cream again.

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/Festive Solstice, etc. everyone!

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