I dream about food constantly.
At least two nights a month I dream about an incredibly messy, incredibly amazing chili cheeseburger that I ate ten years ago at the All Star Cafe in Pittsboro, North Carolina. They served it Carolina style, which means it was topped with cole slaw. And it came with a basket of fresh, hot onion rings -- the better to mop up all of the chili, melted cheese and cole slaw that spilled out. I also dream a lot about the mouth-watering pancetta and caramelized onion pizza that they make at a place on East 20th Street called Pizza Fresca. Diana and I like to go there.
Mostly I dream about chocolate. And not just while I'm asleep. Chocolate occupies my mind day and night. It's my greatest passion in life. I'm really not a complicated person at all. If my mind isn't occupied with figuring out how to murder someone, then the chances are very good that I'm thinking about chocolate. If I'm sitting in the dentist's chair I'm wondering why it is they have mint-flavored toothpaste but not chocolate. Or dental floss. Wouldn't you floss more often if they made chocolate floss? I would. If I'm sipping my late morning herbal tea I'm thinking how much better it would taste with one of Maida Heatter's chocolate peanut cookies, and how I ought to bake a batch.
But nothing occupies my thoughts quite like my yearning for the hot fudge sauce that I give to friends and loved ones every year for Christmas. Diana and I have jarred up two batches so far this season and are about to make a third today. It is absolutely killer. The best. Once you've tasted it you'll never go back. It's great on ice cream, of course. And we find it to be the height of sin on Diana's warm, fresh-baked bread. In the spirit of the season I've decided to share the recipe, which comes from the March 1997 issue of Saveur magazine. The late, great journalist R.W. Apple uncovered it in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at a restaurant called Rostoff. He thought it was the best he'd ever tasted and I don't disagree. It's not that hard to make. All you need is a stainless steel double boiler and a bit of patience. Chocolate does NOT like to be rushed.
Here's what you'll need:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
7 tablespoons sweet butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of kosher salt
Break up the chocolate into pieces. Melt the chocolate and all of the other ingredients (except for the vanilla and salt) together in the top of your double boiler over water that's at a LOW simmer. Like I said, don't rush this. Chocolate will seize up if it gets too hot. It'll take a few minutes for everything to melt. Use a wooden spoon to stir it together. When it becomes nice and smooth keep stirring it with your wooden spoon for an additional five minutes. Remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla and the pinch of salt. Then pig out.
It'll keep for a couple of weeks in a jar in the refrigerator, not that it'll ever last that long. You can re-heat it in a microwave or by placing the jar in a saucepan of simmering water.
Enjoy. And, hey, happy holidays.