We Can’t Socialize, but We Have ChocolateMay 01, 2020 11:37AM ● By Cornelius O'Donnell
Let me take you back a bit to those glorious days of the ’50s (gulp) when my father would call out “Route 32” or “Dutcher’s” and, no matter where the four of us kids were—immersed in a picture puzzle, in the sand box, nose in a book, or perhaps Hopalong Cassidy on the tube—we’d come running and jump in the car. Why? Because we knew that a call to either place meant ice cream and, most emphatically, chocolate ice cream.
I should explain: Route 32 meant a short ride to a gas station on that route in Glenmont, just south of Albany. But we weren’t going for gas, it was the handpacked chocolate ice cream. Dad insisted on it, finding “too much air” in the cartons. It was fascinating to watch the cardboard container placed inside the metal jacket, the ice cream scoop removed from its water bowl, and then the deep brown ice cream loaded in the container. (I had to ignore this “gas-jockey’s” hands still stained from the last lube.) Did we get a pint or half gallon from the large drum of ice cream? I can’t remember. All I recall is the ride home and the anticipation of the reward in the bowls Mom had waiting for us. (Amazing fact, at least to us kids: Mom didn’t like ice cream. We found this so unusual my youngest brother wanted to take her to show and tell at school.)
Dutcher’s was a dairy store on the road from Voorheesville to Route 20 that featured homemade ice cream and, all summer, had a constant flow of customers. This was a place that gave you an enormous quantity of the creamy sweet stuff (it almost filled a milk-shake container), and then there was the chocolate syrup and the peanuts or walnut pieces sprinkled over the clouds of whipped cream. Any readers remember this? This was a choc-a-holic’s heaven, although I must admit I loved the strawberry version with the icy bits of strawberries.
But I’ve also enjoyed chocolate desserts, as much for the shouts of (mostly) joy when I present one at the conclusion of a meal as for the eating of it. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use chocolate.
Chocolate Upside-Down Pudding
I found this gem in the Pyrex Prize Recipes cookbook, circa 1953, that I treasure. And this is the headnote above the recipe: “This is like a rich chocolate cake with a chocolate sauce underneath. It is delicious served slightly warm with whipped cream.” And it is. The quantity of spots on the book’s page says it all.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. For the cake:
- ¾ c. granulated sugar
- 1¼ c. sifted cake flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 square (1 oz.) unsweetened chocolate
- ½ c. regular milk
- 1 tsp. real vanilla extract
- ½ c. chopped pecans or walnuts
For the topping:
- ½ c. granulated sugar
- ½ c. brown sugar, well-packed
- 2 Tbsp. cocoa
- 1 c. boiling water
Sift together the ¾ c. granulated sugar, the flour, baking powder, and salt. I just put it through a hand-held sifter. Melt together the butter and the chocolate; mix this with the milk and vanilla. Stir this into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula and stir in the nuts. Pour into a well-greased 1½-quart Pyrex round cake dish.
For the topping: Mix together the granulated sugar, the brown sugar, and the cocoa, and spread this on top of the batter. Pour the boiling water over all. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour. This serves 6 to 8. And, since I am my father’s son, I’d serve this with a bit of chocolate ice cream and whipped cream. Serve a salad as the main course. This dessert is rich as Rockefeller.
There seem to be as many mousse recipes as there are moose in the woods. No matter, this is an old favorite (again, spots) from a boxed set of recipes put together ages ago by Corning Hospital’s Chapter P. I’ve made so many goodies from this collection of index cards I can only wish someone would reprint it. It’s great to go through these and remember the women who submitted “their best.”
Jane Hubben’s Chocolate Mousse
- 1 lb. sweet chocolate
- ½ c. granulated sugar
- ¼ c. brandy, bourbon, or rum
- ¼ c. water
- 10 egg yolks
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla
- 10 egg whites
- ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
Melt together the chocolate, sugar, spirit of choice, and water. (Try a big Pyrex bowl in the microwave. It should take about 3 to 4 minutes on high. Note that in microwave cooking, chocolate holds its shape but may be softly melted.) Let cool. Beat together (I use a whisk) the egg yolks and vanilla. Then add the chocolate mixture. In another bowl, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Then fold the two mixtures together and transfer to a decorative bowl, cover with plastic wrap or foil, and chill. You can garnish with shaved chocolate curls and whipped cream. This serves 6 to 8.
Chocolate Rum Coffee
Carol Pulaski was among the Chapter P contributors, and her recipe would be just the ticket to end a meal when you are ready to flip out. Here’s dessert in a flash.
For each serving place the following in a mug (time to use your collection):
- Strong coffee, regular or decaf
- 1 Tbsp. chocolate syrup
- 1 oz. rum
- 1 large (heaping?) tbsp. chocolate or vanilla ice cream
Heat mug. Fill three-fourths full with hot coffee. Stir in chocolate and then stir in rum. Top with ice cream and serve immediately.
Dad would be so proud of me if I served any one of these desserts.