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Spring indeed

24 Mar
Everything is better in a heart-shaped bowl.
Everything is better in a heart-shaped bowl.

Wouldn’t it happen that as soon as I let my guard down and decide to be excited about spring, we’d have a gray day with four days of snow in the forecast? Well. Let me tell you one thing. It might not look like spring outside, but it can be spring in my heart…aww. In lieu of that, it can be spring in my bowl and in my mouth. Even better.

 

Not knowing whether D would be available to come to our church St. Patrick’s Day party the Saturday before last (and, well, because we have an absolutely impressive reputation for making and breaking our own plans), I signed up to bring the least committal thing I could: dessert. Normally, I love cooking and baking for people, especially in my own house. But in potluck-type settings, there’s a part of me who knows that the offerings will be full of casseroles, Miracle Whip, Jell-O, and rolls picked up from the bakery, and that’s what people want and expect. I’m inclined to think that it’s not worth the while to rack my brain for some never-before-seen creation from the oven when either someone will slurp without tasting or a very cute, well-meaning child sticks their finger in the middle of. I know. I need a little attention when it comes to the food I make.

 

Despite these crucial, shattering circumstances, I thought anyway. I pondered, I prayed, I aspired to make Jamie Oliver’s Sticky Toffee Pudding or bring a plate of homemade donuts or Chocolate Clafoutis. And thought some more, and then forgot promptly once church was over.

 

The Saturday of the St. Patrick’s Day party rolls around, and fifteen minutes before it, procrastination and forgetfulness catches up, sits on me until I cry for mercy, and pushes me in the direction of the fridge and cupboard. It also threatened me with a life of only canned green beans unless I bought several pints of strawberries (they were on sale). Obviously, I obliged. Forgetfulness is a hard master.

 

So with five minutes until takeoff for the party (hooray for living really close to the church!), I scrambled and searched for something to pair with the strawberries, and you’re looking (look! look!) at the results: a regular bowl ‘o cream with a few twists. Cardamom, strawberries, and orange are good friends, but a word of caution: cardamom can be a pretty strong friend. You know that one friend who’s always the center of attention at every party? Right. Cardamom. The funny friend, but still. Once in a while, a strawberry would like a chance.

 

I’ve tried this both with plain, slivered almonds and sugared ones, with the vote that plain is best—the sugared almonds provide a crunch that is great in some places, but is kind of the guy at the gym wearing jeans and flip-flops on the treadmill; a little awkward.

 

I can see this with a variety of fruits, though I definitely wanted to stay away from the typical fruit salad offering. Blueberries would be a great addition, as would be a swirl of maple syrup. Let me know what variations you come up with.

 

Welcome, spring! (Please stay! Please! I am not native to Minnesota and can only do snow so long.)

 

-Erin

 

Spring Strawberries and Cream Bowl

 

This recipe is best made a few hours ahead of time, though it was born in about five minutes. Making it ahead of time allows the cream to absorb the cardamom and orange flavors.

 

Kitchen tip: Cream whips best when you use a chilled bowl, preferably metal. (I don’t have a metal bowl, but I just refrigerate a glass or ceramic bowl at least half an hour.) If mixing by hand, choose a large, sturdy whisk to incorporate the maximum amount of air.

 

Lastly, though the cardamom might seem exotic, this recipe has been certified both kid- and adult-approved. Miracle.

 

Prep time: About 7 minutes

Difficulty level: Not even close

 

1 pt. strawberries, tops removed, sliced thinly

1/2 C heavy whipping cream

scant 1/4 C granulated sugar

1 1/2 C plain yogurt (fat-free varieties tend to be grainy; Old Home is slightly better)

2 dried cardamom pods, ground (or 1/8 t cardamom, to taste)

1/2 t dried orange peel (or zest of one medium orange)

handful slivered almonds, divided

 

Set aside strawberries.

 

*In a large serving bowl, whip cream to soft peaks (~3 minutes with an electric mixer). Fold in sugar gradually. Fold in yogurt, cardamom, and orange peel or zest. Fold in strawberries, reserving a handful. Fold in almonds, reserving a handful. Top bowl with reserved almonds and strawberries.

Another Fast Feast: Tomato Soup Provence

6 Jan
Topped with a bit of leftover summer herbs left dwindling...

Topped with a bit of leftover summer herbs left dwindling in a pot...

Hm, what can I tell you about this? Do you hate when you don’t know how to start a post and this prevents you from posting for, oh, a few weeks? Me too. All the time. Nevertheless, the job must be done, and I’m the one to do it, right? Right.

First, I love tomato soup, in so many forms. In fact, this is probably but one of at least a half-dozen tomato soups that I’ve made in my day (which is not a very long day, but still). The difference between this and other tomato soups is the flavor, oh, the flavor.

Have you ever used Herbes de Provence? It  is a blend of herbs originally from the southern part of France; which, I’ve read, does really have the aroma of some of the flavors in this blend. The blend commonly includes lavender, rosemary, bay leaf, basil, thyme, and in my blend, fennel. All this comes together in a very perfume-y mix, very flowery. Frankly, I could put it in my dresser drawers and be happy. But we’re putting it in soup today, where it lends a flavor that is just beautiful. Sorry to be a cliche food writer, but it’s true. And the aromas from the bubbling pot–you’ll want friends over just for that!

Besides the flavor, the second wonderful thing about this soup is its simplicity. As a maker of many, many soups, some of which have many, many ingredients, this is a great deviation from my usual habits. I often craft soups to be all-in-one meals, which necessitates a little thinking along the lines of including something from each food group and incorporating the major macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates). This soup departs from my habit, since it doesn’t have a sturdy protein backing; but America, most of us get enough protein in our diet that we could all be bodybuilders; too much, in fact. So consider this a healthy break! If you’re a vegetarian, of course, be sure to include a lean source of protein on the side or elsewhere in your day.

But back to simplicity. Once you’ve cut up your onions and garlic, you can have this soup on the table in twenty minutes, and since soups are easy to double, you might find yourself with several meals’ worth of food–where else do you get such a return on your investment? (And this is why I have an extra freezer.) Pick up some nice, crusty, whole-grain bread to serve on the side, and you’re set. I know you’ll be tempted to skip the goat cheese–it’s not in every fridge–but don’t. It is a perfect complement. (Hint: it’s most economical at Costco. Just find a friend to share it with, or plan on eating a lot of chevre.) Also fantastic–most of these items are things you’ve already got in your pantry or fridge! Aren’t I good to you?

As usual, leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you! A very happy new year to you and yours. May this be the start of a healthy, delicious 365 days.

-Erin

Provence Tomato Soup

This recipe calls for two to three tablespoons Herbes de Provence; no, this is not a typo! The tomatoes can absorb a lot of flavor. Taste first with two tablespoons; adjust as needed.

Note: I topped mine with some stray herbs (oregano) still struggling in a pot on the kitchen table, but that was silly of me. Consider the green bits in the picture simply a clever color complement for photography.

From “raw” to eating: 20 min., appx.

Makes: a big pot full, enough for 8-10 servings+

Olive oil, for sauteeing
1 large onion (I used yellow because they’re cheapest and I’m like that), medium dice
2 large cloves garlic, finely diced
1 small can tomato paste
2-3 T Herbes de Provence
1/2 C white grape juice (my subsitute for white wine)
4 14-oz cans (I think that’s the size they are; the “regular” size, in other words) diced tomatoes
2 quarts chicken broth, preferably homemade, low-sodium (but cheat if you must…don’t say I didn’t warn you, though!)

cracked pepper & salt, to taste
chevre (soft goat cheese), for plopping onto the top of each bowl

In a stock pot or your favorite large soup pot, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat; it should be enough to film the bottom of the pot. When the oil is hot (this will depend on your stove; it’s about two minutes for me), toss in the onion and garlic. Turn the heat down to medium-high. Sprinkle salt in; this will help the onions to “sweat” out their liquid. Saute garlic-onion mixture until nearly translucent, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomato paste and Herbes de Provence, and grape juice; stir to incorporate. Add the tomatoes (including the liquid) and the broth. Cover and bring to a boil.

Taste and adjust for seasoning; to serve, ladle into bowls, top with a small scoop of chevre (it melts–so good!), and serve a piece of toasted whole-grain bread on the side.

Leftovers can be stored, refrigerated, for up to two weeks, or frozen, for two or three months. If they last that long!

Post-Election Day Chocolate Clafoutis With Chewy-Crisp Ginger Apples

4 Nov

Because we're Americans. And we deserve a reward!
Because we’re Americans. And we deserve a reward.

Let’s be honest. Or I will, since I’m the one writing here. This was the longest presidential campaign in United States history. I think it started in 1990, when I was eight. In the end, whether or not the candidate I vote for won, I still have that to celebrate–the end. No more commercials! No more negative campaign ads, slogans, dull debates, and endless media coverage! I’m shouting for joy here, with several sentences in a row ending with exclamation marks!

We’re in a bit of a rough patch economically, so most of the past month or two’s news reports have broadcast doom, doom, and the occasional proclamation of the end of the world. In other words, we need a break and a little indulgence!

I originally started out trying to adapt this recipe from Jamie Oliver’s recipe, but sadly, I could not bring myself to google every metric measurement to convert it to my US cups and spoons. So the idea is Jamie’s, but I suspect that’s the end of the resemblance, much as I adore Jamie and his quirky ways.

Still having a few coveted apples left from our apple-picking adventure, I topped sauteed them in a bit of butter and candied ginger. It was an experiment, but oh, a delicious one.

Whether you’re nursing your wounds for your beaten candidate or celebrating the one you supported, you deserve this. Really.

Deviating from my normal emphasis on very nutrient-dense foods, I will make no comments about the nutritional content, except to beg you to remember that it is topped with fruit. And that even the healthiest people deserve dessert. Aren’t you proud to be an American? I am.

-Erin

Chocolate Clafoutis With Chewy-Crisp Ginger Apples

From “raw” to eating: 40 minutes (including prep time).

Makes: Two quite large servings, or four smaller ones.

This is a pretty rich dessert, so although some people may have eaten this in two servings (I’m not saying what people, but one of them has a food blog and the other is a Midwesterner), it’s probably a good bet that if you’re serving it to guests after a meal, it really serves four. Maybe more, if they’re pretty light dessert eaters. The blog owner and Midwesterner like dessert, I hear.

For the almond meal, I happened to have salted, roasted almonds around. I thought that they’d be way too salty, but they didn’t appear to harm the clafoutis at all. If you’re watching your sodium intake, feel free to skip the additional 1/8 t salt.

Also. This one is important: do not over-bake. The middle is meant to stay fudgy–if not, it’d be just another cake. And who wants that? No one, that’s who.

For the clafoutis:

½ C flour

2 t baking powder

1/8 t (a pinch) salt

1/3 C sugar

¼ C half-and-half

1/3 C chocolate bar chocolate (or the best stuff you have around)

½ C almond meal (almonds ground to the consistency of cornmeal, etc.)

Apple-ginger topping:

2 T butter

1 Cortland apple, sliced thinly into rounds

3 half-inch-cube pieces candied ginger (or the equivalent), chopped roughly

Make the clafoutis:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix flour, baking power, sugar, and almond meal together. Set aside.

In a double boiler on low or on a microwave at half power (I use the first method), gently melt chocolate and butter. Remove from heat and slowly add the half-and-half, whisking to combine.

Add chocolate-butter mixture to dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Pour into a buttered earthenware dish (I used a small bowl) and bake for 25-35 minutes or until it’s set on the edges but fudgy in the middle. That means it’s done!

Make the ginger-apple topping:

While the clafoutis cooks, make the topping. Make more than you think you need. Then sample it. Offer samples to anyone nearby.

In a frying pan or other non-pot-type pan (I am known for very technical directions), melt the butter over low heat. Do not let the butter brown. Add the chopped ginger candies and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Finally, add the apples. Raise temperature to medium-high. Cook until apples are nearly translucent and skins are chewy-crisp. Spoon over entire clafoutis or individual pieces.

Mango-mint lassi

17 Jul
Mango-mint lassi

Oh, so good, mango-mint lassi. If you're feeling hot and sticky, this is where it is.

First, let me start with an apology. I’m a little sorry not to have posted in quite a long time, but I promise I have been doing good things in the meantime, such as camping, searching for ticks, and getting ready with Midwestern Meateater to be first-time homeowners. That’s a project. While I was out, you missed something I’m actually known for bringing to share in the out-of-doors—cranberry & carrot couscous with salmon and herbs. Five minutes, and it was great. Take that on your next adventure and your friends will think you’re amazing. Maybe it’ll appear here someday.

I don’t promise to never slack again, just in case. (Someone once told me not to use the words “never” or “always,” since they have exceptions.) But I will come back, each time. Lassie and me, faithful as ever. Except that I bring food and Lassie brings a message about someone in trouble.

Hot times = cold drinks

These days around Minnesota, are hot. These are sticky, steamy, zapping, three-popsicles-a-day times. In other words, summer has finally arrived, and while I love how everything grows so well and turns an emerald shade, it becomes necessary to do a little cooling off. As someone at a fabric store recently told me, “if you have to sit in your car at a stop light for more than a few seconds, you have to turn the air conditioning on.”

On these sweaty, sweaty days, I don’t have the appetite or desire to stand over a stove or even come near an oven. When I come in from outside, I immediately want something cool, and it is nice not to eat another popsicle, especially when beautiful colors and flavors for a nice, cool drink are so easy to get.

Meet the lassi

The lassi is a traditional Indian drink, served up daily over ice at your local Indian restaurant. It can be flavored with cardamom, pistachios, rose water, or even cumin. Without googling, I cannot even begin to tell you where to find rose water. It’s frothy, smoothie-like, and best of all, chilled.

I first had a lassi at a restaurant here in the Twin Cities called Passage to India. On the menu was a “lassi,” and although I didn’t try it there, I have wanted to since. Names of dishes at ethnic restaurants like this one tend to be about as descriptive as hardware items, but I could imagine the lassi anyway. Yogurt, fruit, blended up? What’s not to like?

Nutritional low-down

The lassi is all good things: dairy, dairy, whole fruit, and sugar (well…I might have fibbed a little).

While I’m at it, a shameless plug for us all to be drinking our milk: Americans have gotten better in this area, but we’re quite bad overall. The worst group is kids and teens; this is where Pepsi and the likes are student body president and you’re not cool if you don’t like it. Or at least, it’s all too accessible, and when it’s not, a host of syrup-laden drinks flavored like “kiwi-strawberry” made by someone who’s never tasted either of those things takes the place of better beverages.

There’s an idea especially among teen girls through even through college-aged ladies that dairy will pool around your middle or other ungainly places bad things will happen; i.e. boys will not ask you out. In a nutshell, this is completely not true and can be quite devastating, in fact. There is a plethora of information out there available about osteoporosis, but let me give you this bit of information: your bones need vitamin D, calcium, and a few other things to be able to grow. And if you don’t give your bones those things early, you may have done the damage by the time you wise up. For females, the last stop on the bone train is age 30. Bones start to lose density after that. The denser the bone, the less likely to break and cause major havoc down the road; even an early death.

I talked with a professor once who was studying bone mass density among women, and used the students on campus as subjects. The results were scary—women whose long-term health was at jeopardy because of neglect.

Essentially, drink your milk! It’s so good for you.

Mango-mint lassi

From “raw” to eating: 5 minutes

Makes: 4-6 servings

I started with the classic mango lassi in mind, but when I remembered mint in the fridge just waiting to go bad, it had to join in.

Inside:
Flesh of one mango, cut into chunks
1 C milk
1 C water
½ C sugar (or less)
handful fresh mint leaves

Whizz this all in a blender on high for about 30 seconds (it’s okay if you see some green flecks from the mint). Serve over crushed ice.

Ah. So good, and good for you. Another day well-done.

-E

Serve over ice...which conveniently floats like a buoy on the surface.

Serve over ice...which will pop up, float like a buoy, and make you want to boat.

A cool salad for warm weather: Middle-Eastern cracked wheat (tabouleh) salad

2 Jul

First off, happy Independence Day, everyone! I’m lake-bound to camp, [watch MM] fish, bike, spend time with MM’s family, and generally get dirty. I hope all you US citizens have some plans for celebrating this beautiful land we’re blessed to live in and the sacrifices made so we could enjoy it.

Speaking of Independence Day, here’s one to make this weekend–a cool, summery salad with garden-fresh vegetables, lemon, and pretty green herbs.

The story of tabouleh goes like this: on a fine, clear day in June, I decided anyway to go inside of a refrigerated store anyway. It was not so bad though; I took a stroll down my favorite aisles: the exotic foods aisles. Dun, dun, dun.

Banners hung from the ceiling that read, “Italian,” “German,” “Scandinavian,” “Japanese,” “Latin,” and the like hung above sections of foods I’d either never heard of or never attempted to incorporate into my diet. In other words, jars of pre-made curry sauces (maybe better than what I make!), packages of udon noodles, savory (I imagined, anyway) matzo ball soups, tamarind soda, ginseng energy drinks with the ginseng looking like seaweed in water–even a simple package of coconut cookies billed simultaneously as both Latin (Spanish language) and South Asian (its location in the aisles) tempted me. I imagined a Japanese-themed dinner-and-movie date night for MM and me, recognizing Jewish holidays with matzo ball soup despite being definitely not Jewish and definitely not knowing what a matzo anything is, etc. I am amazing at making up scenarios to make create exotic meals.

I restrained; however, Midwestern Meateater knows my penchant for anything foreign-sounding, -looking, or -tasting, so he usually encourages me to pick up a couple of items: “no, honey, get that. Get the thing…that green thing in the jar. It’s okay. You’ll use it somehow. No, it’ll be good. No, not like last time.” Thus was born tabouleh.

Truthfully, I’ve wanted to taste tabouleh since high school, when my friends and I listened to a song called “Nose Ring Girl,” where the remembered line was “and buy her hummus, and tabulis, and bobbagunush, and rice cakes, rice cakes, rice cakes!” (We shouted the much-loved words at the last part.) It’s classy that I wanted to make a dish based on the lyrics of a band called Nerf Herder, isn’t it? Yes.

Tabouleh turns out to be highly good for you, and just like it sounds, rather breezy and vegetable-y. Light and summery, with only a bit of cooking involved. And heck, if it’s hot enough where you are, maybe you can just set your pot ‘o water outside and it’ll boil anyway. I will feel sorry for you if that’s the case, though. Wear your sunscreen.

Tabouleh works excellently as a vegetarian side dish. The lemon, herbs, tomatoes, and cucumbers in this Middle-Eastern just make you want to grow a garden. Or borrow from your neighbor’s. It would be fantastic this weekend as a Fourth of July side, and unlike other things I make, I don’t think it is too far-out. I’d dare to call it crowd-pleasing, in fact.

Nutritional low-down on tabouleh:

Tomatoes are a natural source of that purportedly anti-cancer agent, lycopene. Tomatoes are full of good things–face it, non-tomato eaters. Cucumbers, like other water-holding vegetables, are low in calories, but what you may not know is that they are a good source of vitamin K. Vitamin K helps with blood clotting (in nutrition classes, we were told to remember “K” for “clotting”…the English major here always thought that was contradictory). Vitamin K also aids in bone formation and fetus development. So, pregnant friends, eat up! Olive oil’s benefits have been touted loudly and much these days, so I won’t cover that here, but feel free to ask in your comments if you want some information.

Bulgur, or cracked wheat, was the main question mark for me, since my Western American ways didn’t associate with bulgur until now, but I had my nutritional suspicions. Turns out bulgur is a fantastic source of insoluble fiber. You need both insoluble (not dissolving) and soluble (dissolving) fiber in your diet, and Americans have a tough time in their refined-grains diet in getting enough of either kind. It’s been used in traditional cultures for a long time because it’s inexpensive but hearty; bulgur provides more fiber and protein than brown rice, but is lower in calories. In other words, you out there looking to put on your teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy, yada yada bikini, this song goes out to you.

Tabouleh salad

This recipe comes straight, yes, from the back of a package of bulgur. No kidding. Well, a girl’s gotta start somewhere. I’ve added some notes where needed and have also inserted some information—this recipe is bare bones when it comes to details. I suppose the assumption is that if you bought this, you don’t need the recipe because your grandmother and mother made it and you learned at 10 years old to make it.

Go heavier on the salt—it only says to taste but the flavors won’t pop otherwise—and use fresh lemons if you can. Don’t skip any of the herbs, even if the mint sounds funny. Do it, I tell you! You’ll love me later.

From “raw” to eating: 20 minutes (plus time to chill)

Makes: 4 C, or a big bowl full (see notes)

½ C medium burghol (cracked wheat) (Esprout note: burghol = bulgur. Referred to hereafter as bulgur. I used more like 2 C, so it made a mixing bowl full.)
1 C chopped [fresh] tomatoes
1 C chopped cucumbers
1 C chopped green onions (Esprout note: I used white.)
1 C chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ C chopped mint leaves
½ C fresh lemon juice
1/3 extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste (Esprout note: see head notes for salt recommendation.)

Wash bulgur, changing the water a few times. Drain, cover with boiling hot water and set aside. (Esprout note: feel free to cook like you would pasta, filling a pot with water, waiting for it to boil, then adding the bulgur.)

Chop all vegetables and combine with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. (Esprout note: I made the dressing of olive oil, lemon, and salt/pepper separately, then added it to the bulgur/wheat mixture.)

Drain bulgur through strainer and press out water as much as possible. (Esprout note: Really. Press. This stuff is dense. I found it helped to shake the strainer a few times to jostle water out.) toss bulgur into vegetable mixture.

Chill for one hour before serving.

Happy Independence Day, everyone! I love you, United States of America, where tabouleh is welcome in your grocery store aisles!

Fruit and coconut pan-toasted granola

19 Jun

Pan-toasted granola atop plain yogurt and sliced green grapes

This might also be called not-patient-enough-to-wait-for-the-oven granola, because that’s how I made it. I was at the crossroads of a small problem—I wanted a crunchy granola to top my plain yogurt with, but I was hungry past of the point of actually heating up the oven. (Lame, I know, but it birthed a fast recipe for you!)

Nutritional low-down

A Mayo Clinic R.D. (that’s registered dietician in layman talk) touted granola a la this: “Dietitian’s tip: Granola is a cereal-like combination of dried fruits, grains and nuts. Though it’s a good source of protein and fiber, granola can also be high in fat and calories, especially the store-bought varieties. Watch your portion sizes or create your own granola to limit the amount of fat, calories and sugar in each serving.”

The Mayo Clinic also has a few (well-known) things about snacking and weight-loss here. And what do you know? They highlight three food groups/areas included in this very recipe—whole grains, fruits, and nuts and seeds. To qualify for the last “healthy snack” category (dairy), simply toss some of your granola your favorite low-fat yogurt.

Here’s my granola philosophy:

In other words, store-bought = not so good for you or anyone else + can be expensive (but yes, still tastes good).

Make-at-home granola = high nutrient density + cheap & possibly already around + textury, highly tasty, and versatile = why aren’t you making some now?

If you’re looking for something fast, tasty, and nutritious–with a bit of crunch–then this is something for your weekday fare, too.

Variations on a theme

Feel free to add in a few things you like, too—here are some suggestions to get you started with your own take on this creation:

  • Unsalted nuts like walnuts, sunflower seeds, cashews, and macadamia nuts
  • Other dried fruits—banana chips, prunes (not just for the elderly!)
  • Candied orange, lemon, or lime peel
  • Fruit juices like orange or grapefruit juice—use to sweeten and flavor naturally

Enjoy!

-E

Fruit and coconut pan-toasted granola

From raw to eating: 15-20 minutes

Makes: 4+ cups’ worth—enough for many breakfasts

Inside:
3 ½ C rolled oats
1 T powdered milk
4 T brown sugar (not packed)
2 ½ T honey
2 ½ T vegetable oil (I used canola)
½ C sweetened shredded coconut
4 T unsalted, plain sunflower seeds
½ C chopped dried fruit (I used dried cranberries and apricots)

Combine all ingredients but dried fruit in a large bowl. Use either your (clean) hands or a fork and gently mix together until you’ve got one (relatively) homogenous mix.

Place a large, shallow pan on medium heat. Give it a couple of minutes to get nice and hot, and, working in batches, make yourself some granola! Stir with a wooden spoon every couple of minutes; each batch will need about seven minutes’ time to fully toast. When the oats have turned a deep golden, brown sugar color, you’re done.

The granola will chunk up as it cools, but this particular recipe yields looser granola. Store granola in an airtight container for 4-6 weeks. (And when I say 4-6 weeks, I’ll be honest—I’m totally guessing. You could bet right that it’d be eaten at my house much sooner than that, but if not, I’d keep it around just as long as I felt like it! I can’t see any foodborne illness or even staleness happening with our hearty granola friends in that time.

Hurrah!

Simple-but-decadent hot fudge sauce

11 Jun

Simple-but-decadent hot fudge sauce

It may not look like much, but this is a very rich and smooth hot fudge topping. (Feel free to send me your better shots once you’ve made this!) What I may be lacking in food styling and photography I make up for in taste. I am also pleased to tell all of you who’re pressed for time that this is a quick, simple sauce. In fact, if you’ve got sugar, evaporated milk, and meltable chocolate on hand, you’re there. Well, almost.

I have also made hot fudge the traditional, old-fashioned way, with cream instead of evaporated milk. Both are good, but this is a little lighter. Though I would never put anything with the word “fudge” in it in the category of “light”…

Approved for all ages

My favorite part of this is how crowd-pleasing it is; I had reviews from 16-month-olds, 6-year-olds, and 50-something-year olds, all of whom loved it. Let your toddler help measure ingredients or put them in the saucepan, and you’ve got a winner from the get-go. Kids love to be involved.

I get the Midwestern Meateater involved by making him my tireless taste-tester; I always need a second opinion when I’m concocting for someone other than myself.

Easy peasy

So give it a go, I dare you. It’ll only take you a few minutes to prepare and heck, you’ve got leftovers for a variety of uses. As I mentioned, you’ve probably already got everything you need for this on hand.

Although we used it in the classic way, topping creamy vanilla ice cream and tangy frozen yogurt, once it’s made, I promise you’ll find more ways to use it.

Five ways to do with your hot fudge sauce:

1. Most-used: ice cream topping

2. Frosting for brownies—very rich

3. Hot fudge cookie sandwich

4. Fondue substitute: Dip for cut up fruit or small pretzels, marshmallows (not that far off from fondue anyway)

5. Stir in your hot chocolate? I know it’s summer, but that actually might work…

What do you use hot fudge for?

As always, I welcome your comments. Happy eating!

-E

Hot Fudge Sauce

Be careful not to overcook–by trial and error, I discovered that at about the 30-minute mark, the hot fudge will start to clump and become grainy. Prevent tragedy! Keep stirring and it’ll stay smooth, creamy, and glossy.

From raw to eating: 30 minutes, mostly stirring. It’s worth it.

From raw to eating: 30 min.

Makes: 6-8 servings

Outside

2 qt. saucepan

wooden spoon for stirring

small lidded glass jar or other container for storing

Inside

2 12-oz cans evaporated milk

*1/4 C granulated sugar

*1 ½ C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Set a saucepan on medium-high heat. Put sugar and contents of two cans evaporated milk into saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly or every couple of minutes. (Food science note: when milk is heated to 113 to 122 F, a skin made of casein and beta proteins clump. As it continues to get heated, the protein layer dries out and forms a skin. And it is icky. Skin = good on humans, not in food.) When your pre-hot fudge has reached a boil, decrease heat to medium-low. Carefully stir in chocolate chips, lowering the chocolate chips to the hot mixture with a large spoon or measuring cup. Do not dump the chocolate chips in from above the pan—the boiling liquid will splash and you will not like me anymore.

Continue stirring over medium heat until mixture thickens; this will take 15-20 minutes. For true hot fudge consistency (you can turn the jar upside-down and it doesn’t move), remove from heat when it is about the consistency of slightly runny pudding. It will continue to cook in the pan and will thicken as it cools.

If not using immediately, store in lidded glass jar (Mason or Bell jar-type) and keep refrigerated. It will keep 4-6 weeks. Heat before serving.

*Addendum: I made this again and discovered I could reduce these amounts without any flavor or consistency deficiency. Hooray! Now there’s less sugar in your treat.