Of Grits and Chocolate Gravy

Chocolate GravyThis post isn’t really about grits; I just liked the way that sounded as a title.  I suppose I can throw in a gratuitous aside about how I love ’em and can’t eat ’em without thinking about Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny, when he goes off on a tangent that includes the phrase, “The entire grit-eating world.”  Which includes me.

So.

Now that I’ve gotten my movie reference for this post out of the way (and notice how I never even brought up my misgivings about Marisa Tomei and her Oscar), let’s move on to chocolate gravy, shall we?  Because, yes, it is a very real thing.  Apparently a purely Southern thing, too, although I have to admit that I’d never heard of it until recently.  I was saved the humiliation of excommunication from The Society of All Things Southern, however, by this post from BooMama, who is one of the most hysterically funny bloggers on the interwebz, in my not-so-humble opinion.  Since she is also just about the most Southern blogger I’ve encountered on the interwebz, I feel slightly better about my ignorance of what is apparently a Southern Culinary Tradition.

I must say that I am further mollified by the fact there is no Wikipedia entry for it.

When I first heard of chocolate gravy, my first reaction was, “Ewwwwwww!” for I had an immediate vision of my beloved cream gravy with a hunk of bittersweet – or worse yet, unsweetened – baking chocolate thrown in.  What it really is, though, is more of a chocolate sauce made of sugar, cocoa, flour, milk and/or water with possibly a touch of butter and vanilla, depending on who’s recipe you’re using.  These crazy, wonderful Southerners then pour it over biscuits and eat it for breakfast.

Oh, I am SO all over that – we’re having it for brunch this Sunday.  The Young One won’t know what hit him, for if there’s one thing he loves more than biscuits, it’s chocolate, and it goes without saying that I am not about to pass up an excuse to legitimately eat chocolate for breakfast.  Oh, no.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Martini

Beloved and I were at a local restaurant the other day, perusing the martini menu, when we came across four that had women’s names.  The waitress told us they were named after the characters in Sex in the City, which I’ve never seen before.  Regardless, the Carrie – a mango infused martini – was wonderful, as was the Charlotte; smooth and chocolate-flavored.  I liked the Charlotte so much that we pestered the waitress to get the recipe for us.  And she did.

So, off we toddled to the liquor store yesterday after work, and Beloved asked me if we should buy everything to make the Charlotte martini.  (Yes, sometimes he asks silly questions.)  One of the ingredients was amaretto, so we bought the Disaronno.  It also called for dark chocolate Godiva liqueur, but we already had white chocolate Godiva at home.  After futzing around with the recipe, Beloved said, “This tastes a little bit like cherry – it must be from the Disaronno.”  I piped up, “Oh, we should put a few drops of kirsch in it, then!”

So we did, and it was sublime.  Here’s the recipe as we made it last night – it is marvelous.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Martini

serves 2 – or me

2 parts vanilla vodka

1 part Frangelico

1 part white chocolate Godiva liqueur

1 part Disaronno

1 part half and half

splash of kirsch

Mix all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice; strain into two chilled martini glasses (or pour one, and put the shaker into the freezer to keep it cold until you’re ready for the rest).

Blondies

Darling Daughter made these over the weekend. She’s made them before, but I’m usually hanging around in the kitchen while she’s mixing them up. Not this time, though. She used a bag of mixed chips – chocolate, white chocolate and peanut butter – with M&Ms that I’d picked up on my last trip to Yoder Miller’s Authentic Amish Fruit and Vegetable Tourist Trap, and the blondies came out of the oven looking like crusty chocolate soup. After they cooled down, they assumed a slightly more “stable” form, but something had gone seriously awry and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what. I shrugged it off, figuring it was the chips she’d used, although I couldn’t understand why they would affect the recipe that way.

This afternoon when I ambled into the kitchen to throw together a couple of loaves of white bread and start dinner, I reached for the flour and noticed that the canister that I keep Bisquick in was empty. Which was really odd, because I rarely use the stuff. Then it occurred to me just what had happened to Darling Daughter’s blondies.

So, before I get into the recipe, which is absolutely decadent with high quality bittersweet chocolate such as Lindt, I feel obligated to insert this cautionary note: Do not attempt to substitute the flour in this recipe with Bisquick.

Blondies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned in and leveled

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

OR

5 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate, such as Lindt, coarsely chopped

Position the topmost rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 F. Butter a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan well.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugars and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture in two additions, mixing only to combine. With a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the nuts and chocolate.

Scrape the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the edges just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Cool for one hour before cutting in to 2-inch squares.

Killer Brownies

When Oldest Son read in an earlier post that I was going to post a recipe for “Killer Brownies,” he said that it sounded interesting but wanted to know, “Why, when you hear about a really decadent dessert, does it have some name like ‘Chocolate Homicide’ or ‘This Cookie Could Kill You?'”

It’s a fair question – and one for which I have no answer. I mean, I have yet to be killed – or even bruised – by a chocolate dessert. But it does sound cool. At any rate, here is the recipe for Killer Brownies. It is adapted from a recipe in Great Cookies by Carole Walter, who is the High Priestess of Bad Ass Cookies. Make them, grab an icy-cold glass of milk, and commit fudgey hari-kari.

Killer Brownies

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter

5 ounces unsweetened chocolate

4 large eggs

2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 1/2 – 2 cups coarsely chopped nuts – walnuts are great, but we like cashews

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9 x 13 x 2 baking dish very well.

In a the top of a double boiler, or a bowl placed over (not in) simmering (not boiling) water, melt the two sticks of butter. When they’re about halfway melted, add the chocolate (if you’re using Baker’s chocolate, break the squares in half). Stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs well and add the sugar in a steady stream, whisking continuously. Whisk in the vanilla. Add the warm chocolate mixture – gently stir in about 1/4 cup, then add the rest, taking care not to aerate the mixture. Add the salt.

Sift the flour in a couple of tablespoons at a time, folding it in gently after each addition. Carefully fold in the nuts with a large spatula. Immediately pour the batter into the buttered pan and spread evenly with the spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out slightly moist – you want a few particles of brownie to stick to the toothpick. Do not overbake. Cool on a wire rack, and try to wait the 4 hours recommended by Ms. Walter (you won’t be able to, but they do taste better the next day). The brownies keep up to 5 days, wrapped tightly in foil or layered in an airtight container, with sheets of waxed paper between.

Brownie