To get the very best chocolate sauce, use the very best chocolate you can find. What makes it “the best”? If you want to get technical, better chocolate has a lot of chocolate mass with a minimum of cocoa butter and other stuff—even natural stuff. Scharffen Berger, Valrhôna, Callebaut, and Ghirardelli brands are all wonderful. If you have enough dessert making experience to know that chocolate can be tricky to work with, relax: the key is to heat the chocolate gently so that the mass doesn’t separate from the cocoa butter. Use a heavy-bottomed pot and work over low heat. If you have a double boiler, now’s the time to use it. The microwave also works well if you do it in short bursts, stirring in between.
CHOP THE CHOCOLATE into coarse pieces and combine it in a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl with the butter, salt, vanilla, corn syrup, and optional zest. Over low heat, gently warm the ingredients until the chocolate softens but has not completely melted. (You can test this by poking at it. Particularly in the microwave, chunks of chocolate may still look solid when they are in fact almost melted.) Whisk until the mixture is smooth, then whisk in the cream. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Warm very gently to return to its sauce consistency, either by placing the bowl in a pan of simmering water or by microwaving uncovered in a microwave on medium power.
© 2004 John Ash. All rights reserved.