One of my greatest blessings is that I knew all four of my grandparents and two of my great-grandmothers. Most of my family members have lived into their 80s, 90s, and beyond (one of my great grandmothers lived to 101), without modern-day worries over diet and exercise. Given my good fortune of having good genes in my family, I don’t mind allowing myself the occasional indulgence.
So many of my childhood (and even young adult) memories involve spending time with my grandparents. Always there were meals – birthday celebrations and holidays and other family get-togethers. It’s funny the food I associate with various family members. My maternal great-grandmother (my mother’s mother’s mother) – Edith Hicks, known as Gigi to the great grandkids (short for great-grandma) taught me how to make yeast rolls and delicious yeasty cinnamon rolls. My paternal grandmother taught me how to make her famous (at least to our family) chop suey, and peanut brittle (I haven’t made that in far-too-long), and my paternal grandfather made perfect over-easy eggs (I have the pan he used to cook them, which I’m sure is 90% of the secret). My maternal grandmother made wonderful meals, but the recipe I most associate with her is her homemade chocolate sauce.
My maternal grandmother, Millie Bryson – known to us as “Gram B” (to distinguish her from my “Gram L” – Grandma Laury) celebrated her 97th birthday in May. (The picture above, taken by my cousin Laura, is from her birthday celebration this year.) She’s an amazing woman – she is blind and so she no longer cooks for herself, but she lives alone and can heat up meals in her microwave oven and gets by very well with help from friends and family. For a week or so I’ve been craving her chocolate sauce and tonight while I made it I found myself thinking alot about her.
The chocolate sauce itself couldn’t be easier – I have a card with the recipe written down somewhere but I couldn’t lay my hands on it tonight. So what follows is my best recollection of her recipe – the proportions may be a bit different, but it tastes just like what she used to make for us. This is good hot, cold or at room temperature. It will thicken after it’s been off the heat for a while, but I always have my first bit of it hot over good vanilla ice cream.
In a small sauce pan, combine:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa
Stir until blended and any clumps of cocoa are mixed in with the sugar. Gradually stir in:
- 1 cup milk (any kind of milk – skim, 1%, or even full fat)
- 1/4 cup corn syrup (I don’t usually use corn syrup but this not only sweetens the sauce it helps it to thicken)
Stir until blended and then cook over medium heat until it reaches a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat so that it continues to boil at a slow pace and cook about 10 more minutes, stirring very frequently. Keep a close eye on it because it may easily boil over, which makes a big mess. The sauce will reduce and thicken slightly, but it will thicken more off-heat.
Turn off the heat and stir in:
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 Tbsp. butter
This can be stored at room temperature for a day or two (my family stores it for longer than this, but I’m not recommending it) or longer in the refrigerator.