Chocolate Obsession

Vanilla ice cream-filled profiteroles with super simple chocolate fudge sauce.I just got a copy of San Francisco chocolatier Michael Recchiuti's Chocolate Obsession. I've read the book cover to cover and am, frankly, a little bit obsessed with the drool-inducing photos and recipes, fantastic stories, and intriguing tricks. For example, who knew that invert sugar (a liquid form of sucrose that has been separated into the simpler glucose and fructose) makes ganache smooth, helps it hold its shape for dipping, and enhances the chocolate's flavor without making it any sweeter? I'm also looking forward to trying his tips on getting the most out of infusions and the benefits of using an immersion blender to mix ganache.I was in charge of crab cakes and dessert for New Year's Eve dinner at a friend's. Though I'm still looking for an excuse (OK, really just for the time) to make this luscious ginger pear cake, it didn't seem quite fancy or festive enough for the occasion. After the chocolate souffle (doesn't travel well) and truffles (already have a large box of those), one of the most appealing photos in Chocolate Obsession is of a back-lit ribbon of burnt caramel sauce being drizzled over ice cream. How do you dress up ice cream and sauce? As profiteroles!The following two recipes are roughly paraphrased from Chocolate Obsession (pages 156 and 157) and slightly annotated.Burnt Caramel SauceMore complex and less sweet than ordinarily caramel, it's not hard to see why burnt caramel is one of Michael Recchiuti's favorite flavors.

2 cups (14 oz) granulated cane sugar1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 oz) heavy whipping cream1/2 cup (5 1/3 oz) light corn syrup10 tablespoons (5 oz) unsalted 82% butterfat butter at room temperatureIn a heavy-bottomed, medium pot (unlined copper if you have it), melt sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Once melted, continue cooking without stirring until sugar turns black (about 10 minutes). Wash any crystals that form on the sides of the pot down with a wet pastry brush.Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.If the sugar syrup foams up before turning black, lower the heat and, wearing an oven-mitt, carefully stir it down.When done, the syrup will smoke and large bubbles will break on the near-black surface.Remove the syrup from heat and carefully stir in the corn syrup. Slowly mix in the hot cream. (The recipe warns that you should use a sieve or splatter guard and that the mixture may sputter and foam--mine did neither, perhaps because the cream or sugar mixture weren't hot enough?)Whisk in the butter.Let cool slightly before using or to room temperature to put into a jar for storage. It will keep for at least a month in the fridge. Shake or stir before use if it separates.

Expected yield for the recipe is about 3 cups. Mine almost completely filled a 1 quart glass jar. If I were to eat that much caramel sauce in a month, I'd probably get sick of it and or my clothes would stop fitting, so make for an event or have a few smaller jars on hand for easy sharing.Even at room temperature, my sauce was not as viscous as the one pictured in the book. Bringing the cream to a stronger boil or making sure that is boiling right up to the point at which it is added might make a difference. Or perhaps a little less corn syrup? Still, a delicious sauce over ice cream-filled profiteroles, or just vanilla ice cream.Dark Chocolate Orange Sauce

9 oz 70% chocolate, coarsely chopped1 1/2 cups (12 oz) heavy whipping cream1 orange2 cups (16oz) fresh orange juice (from 6 to 8 large oranges)1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz granulated sugar (I would use less for reasonably sweet OJ - ours was fairly tart)1 Tahitian vanilla bean, split lengthwisePlace chocolate into a medium stainless-steel bowl.Pour the cream into a small saucepan. Finely zest the orange directly into the cream.Bring the cream and orange zest to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and cover the plan with plastic wrap. Let steep for half an hour.In a small sauce-pan, bring the orange juice, sugar, seeds from the vanilla bean, and the bean itself to a moderate boil over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally with a rubber spatula until reduced to 1 cup (about 15 minutes), then remove from heat. Return the cream to a simmer over medium heat. Add reduced orange juice mixture to the cream and bring to a boil.Pour the liquid mixture through a fine-mesh sieve directly over the chocolate. Whisk the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted.Pour the mixture into a clear, 1 quart vessel--I used a 4 cup liquid measuring cup--and blend until smooth with an immersion blender.Use the sauce immediately or cool to room temperature before pouring into a jar to store. Will keep in the fridge for at least a month. Optional: when serving, sprinkle with diced candied orange rind for more intense orange flavor.

This recipe is supposed to yield about 2 1/2 cups. We got a little more, but realized after the fact that we hadn't reduced the orange juice quite far enough (ours ended up at about 1 1/4 cup). As a result, this sauce was also thinner than we would have liked. (It somewhat resembled really tasty chocolate milk.) I would probably reduce to less than one cup next time. It has wonderful orange flavor though and was delicious over profiteroles.Super Simple Chocolate SauceIf you don't need several cups of chocolate sauce or are just looking for a fast and easy fudge sauce, here's the recipe I've developed. It takes about 4 minutes total to make, doesn't have any corn syrup or other unnatural stuff, and serves 4.

5 oz dark chocolate1/4 cup heavy whipping cream1 tablespoon butterOptional: zest from one orange, 1/4 orange or vanilla extract, or 1 teaspoon of flavored liqueur (like framboise)Finely chop chocolate into a medium bowl.In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. (Optional: if flavoring with orange zest, add to cream before heating to extract more flavor.)Stir in butter to melt.Pour cream mixture over chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted.Optional: add flavoring of your choice.Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat over warm water or on low power in the microwave.