Better than Hershey’s

I have to admit that I’ve never been very fond of Hershey’s syrup; I’ve always thought it tasted more like plastic bottle than chocolate. I started making my own hot fudge sauce as a newlywed, but a year or two ago I started thinking of practical uses for chocolate syrup. It goes on ice cream, of course, but unlike hot fudge it can also be used to make chocolate milk or drizzled in places where (perish the thought!) hot fudge might be a bit too much (say it isn’t so!).

A Google search will yield a variety of recipes for chocolate syrup. They all use the same simple ingredients, but quantities vary. The proportions below work well for us, although I’ve been known to tweak the cocoa:sugar ratio if I’m running low on one or the other. ;)

Chocolate Syrup

1 cup cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Salt

1 tsp vanilla

Combine cocoa, sugar, and salt in medium saucepan. Stir in water. Cook & stir, over medium heat, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Store in refrigerator; reheats well.

Cooking school

Taking a short break from pictures of Dad and Mom’s visit. . .yesterday after they left, for about 30 seconds I intended to put in a full day of homeschool. Then I remembered how we all–students and teacher alike–always need some time to regroup after having guests. So we worked on our memory work, first catechism and then poetry, and I assigned each a page of math. Then. . .I headed downstairs and turned on The French Chef. It occurred to me that they might be inspired to cook something, and cooking of course is full of educational opportunities.

I was not disappointed. The first episode was Mousse au Chocolat, and Boy Genius was quick to grab pen and paper to write down the recipe. After lunch (and after some enforced quiet time so that I could pay bills), he and I made Mousse, with some help from Bouncy Boy and Silly Boy as well as some interference from Baby Boy. ;)

Boy Genius takes a turn whisking egg yolks while Silly Boy cuts up butter to add to the melted chocolate.

Bouncy Boy adds a pinch of salt and some cream of tartar to the egg whites for me.

Everyone (including George) watches as Boy Genius folds the chocolate into the egg yolks.

Licking the bowl–everyone’s favorite part!

The boys had wanted to mold their mousse as Julia did, but for this time I simply spooned it into a large serving bowl to chill until after Vespers.

Too many chefs?

Sometimes I feel like I am tripping over “helpers” while I work in the kitchen. . .

Normally they do not stand still like this! No, they keep moving around so that there is always someone standing where I need to stand, or in between me and wherever I need to be. But not last night. No, last night I thought everyone else was busy so I decided to watch Julia Child on my laptop while I was prepping this morning’s breakfast.

This was the original French Chef, black and white, nothing fancy. . .but they were still completely fascinated. Bouncy Boy  wants to know when he can bake a Queen of Sheba cake. I guess I’ll have to watch the episode again some night when they are sleeping, as it was hard to watch it through their heads. :D

Virtual coffee

I’ve been enjoying my friend Pam’s recent virtual coffee posts, and thought it might be a fun change of pace. :) This week I’ve been feeling the irony of more things to blog about = less time for blogging, but at the moment I’m tied to the oven stirring granola every 15 minutes so here I am.

So, if you came to my house for coffee today, I’d tell you that I’ve been making my own peppermint mochas lately, adding hot chocolate and a drop of peppermint extract to my coffee. Yummy! If you wanted one, too, I would pull out the can of whipped cream just for fun. ;) And then I’d pull out my hidden bag of Lindt truffles to share, because believe it or not I still haven’t baked any cookies this December.

On our way into the kitchen, you might notice that I finally put up my apron display over my desk, and we might talk about the women in my family who originally owned the aprons. Once the coffee was ready, we would probably stand at the kitchen window watching Twirly Girl and George play in the snow.

When Drama Boy heard adult voices, he’d wander upstairs to stick his nose in. And when I mentioned that yesterday was his 14th birthday, he’d want to show you the root beer that he’s brewing for his family party on Friday night. So we’d go downstairs to the storage room and on the way I’d show you the “mitten rope” I made yesterday while I was tidying up the laundry room.

Then my kitchen timer would beep and I’d need to head back upstairs to stir the granola. If Drama Boy didn’t follow us, I’d sigh and tell you that although he can be quite mature and clever at times, when he was mixing up the granola for me he used white flour instead of whole wheat per the recipe. It looks really pale and I hope it tastes alright.

We could go sit in the living room for a bit, although we’d probably be interrupted sooner or later by one little boy tattling on another. And if they’d been playing outside, they’d look at our coffee and ask for hot chocolate. I might make them some now, or I might tell them they can have it with their supper. I might even let them watch a movie, just for the temporary peace and quiet. . .but only if they have their schoolwork done.

What are you enjoying this afternoon?

Happy dipping

I was looking back over my blog this weekend and realizing I always wax poetic about strawberries in the springtime. And this year will be no exception! I’m a bit picky about the quality of my strawberries, but I have found some that I’m willing to eat (and blow the week’s produce budget on berries, but that’s beyond the point). I haven’t been able to buy enough yet to make any of my favorite desserts, so we’ve eaten most of them on our cereal.

I’ve also taken to making a simple chocolate dip of an evening: stir, melt, and enjoy. For just me, I use about 2 tablespoons chocolate chips and a teaspoon or so of butter, then I stir in amaretto a teaspoonful at a time until it reaches dipping consistency. It will thicken as it cools, so you’ll want to devour it right away. :D

CHOCOLATE

We seldom serve chocolate pudding here in Neverland; my ungrateful kids prefer the stuff that tastes like its box over the real cooked deal. But the following recipe is enjoyed by the whole family (and is easy enough for a kid to make). The only downside is the use of chocolate chips makes it a little expensive to serve  often.

Rich Chocolate Pudding

Taste of Home 2001; serves 6

  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • Whipped topping & mini chocolate chips, optional

Place chocolate chips and powdered sugar in a blender; cover and process until the chips are coarsely chopped. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring milk and butter to a boil. Add to blender; cover and process until chips are melted and mixture is smooth.

Pour into 6 individual serving dishes; refrigerate. Garnish with whipped topping and mini chips if desired.

So much for that Mother of the Year award

A recent conversation (that will make more sense if you’ve read Harry Potter), on a day when Boy Genius was dragging his heels:

BG: But why do I have to dry the dishes?

Me: Alright then, why do I have to fix dinner?

BG: Because you’re the mom.

Me: Well, then, you have to help because you’re a kid, a part of this family.

BG: But you get special privileges!

Me: Oh, like what?

BG: You get to eat chocolate and stuff!

Me: Ah, but that is because sometimes you kids act like dementors!

C is for cookie

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how much I love cookies.. .both eating and baking them. ;) I like how I can choose almost any cookie recipe and make it using the same basic formula Mom taught me as a girl: cream the butter and sugar, beat in the egg and vanilla, gradually add the dry ingredients, and fold in any goodies. Voila–cookie dough! Which is good enough to eat as-is, and I do, although I like it better when it’s baked and still warm from the oven.

Last weekend I was contemplating what to do with a bag of Ghirardelli chocolate chips (other than eat them right out of the bag). The recipe on the back sounded promising, but I decided to check their website for more ideas. Something oat-y sounded good, so I decided to make Clementine’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. Yum! I don’t know who Clementine is, but I definitely recommend trying her recipe if you like oats and chocolate. :D