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Chocolate Sauce

I wanted a chocolate sauce with an appetizing sheen, dark color and full-bodied flavor. After several tries, I came up with this. It stores beautifully in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Since a lot of its "chocolatiness" comes from the cocoa powder, be sure to choose a quality brand with a taste you like. Though the directions call for a food processor, the sauce can also be made without one; see the alternate instructions at the bottom of the recipe. In either case, follow the mixing instructions carefully to avoid scorching the cocoa and to ensure the smooth, glossy consistency of the sauce.

Makes a generous 2 cups

2 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon good quality unsweetened cocoa powder (not cocoa drink mix)

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup hot water

Generous 1/2 cup light corn syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a food processor, chop the chocolate until very fine. Thoroughly stir together the cocoa and sugar in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan. Stir in the water until the mixture is smooth. Place over medium heat, and bring to a boil, stirring. Gently boil, stirring and scraping the pan bottom, for 30 seconds and immediately remove the pan from the heat. Pour the hot cocoa mixture over the chocolate in the food processor, then let the mixture stand undisturbed for 5 minutes (so the chocolate can partially melt).

Process until the mixture is completely smooth (about 1 minute), stopping and scraping down the sides as needed. With the motor running, in a thin stream, add the corn syrup and then vanilla, until fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth; stop and scrape down the sides as needed. The sauce will seem thin, but will thicken considerably when chilled.

Let cool slightly, then transfer to a storage container. Refrigerate for up to three weeks. If necessary, thin the sauce by stirring in a little hot tap water.

Alternative Mixing Instructions: Chop the chocolate into chocolate mini-morsel-sized pieces; place in a medium bowl. Stir the cocoa through a fine sieve into a heavy medium-sized saucepan. Add the sugar and water and cook exactly as directed above. Pour a generous half of the hot cocoa mixture over the chocolate (no need to measure); let stand undisturbed for 5 minutes so the chocolate can partially melt. Whisk the mixture until completely smooth and thickened. Slowly whisk the remainder of the cocoa mixture into the chocolate until completely incorporated and smooth. In a thin stream, whisk in the corn syrup, then add the vanilla.

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