Cook up a classic: Chocolate sauce

Chocolate sauce appeals to the novice cook. It seems so simple. Just warm chocolate. Right?

But good chocolate sauce calls for further refinement. I started this project young, which might explain my early mistakes: Cocoa powder. Corn syrup. What did I know?

I moved on to better chocolate, to heavy cream, to whisking and warming with whiskey. I managed good chocolate sauce. Not great chocolate sauce.

Then one night my friend Carbery served fantastic chocolate sauce. Not thin, like the canned drizzle. Not thick, like bottled fudge. Just luscious.

Carbery’s recipe called for egg yolks and for lots of butter, neither of which should have come as a surprise. Butter and yolks emulsify into many an esteemed sauce: hollandaise, Bearnaise, lemon curd. Why not chocolate? It always counts as classic.

Carbery’s chocolate sauce

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup light cream

1 cup sugar

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut up

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prep: Slide yolks into a small bowl. Whisk briefly. Keep handy.

Boil: Pour cream into a medium saucepan. Stir in sugar. Heat to a boil. Slide in both types of chocolate. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring, until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Temper: Whisk 2 tablespoons of the chocolate into the yolks. Whisk these tempered yolks back into the pan of chocolate. Cook, whisking, 1 minute. Pull pan off heat. Stir in butter.

Strain: Use a soft spatula to press sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Stir in vanilla. Lavish over ice cream.

Provenance: Adapted from a recipe passed along by my friend Carbery, who got it from her sister, who picked it up on a baby-sitting job in the neighborhood.

Makes about 2 cups.

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