Wednesday marked one year since my Grandma Jones unexpectedly passed away. Even though she’s been gone a whole year, it still somehow feels like she’s just on a very long trip & will be back anytime. I cannot tell you how many times over the past months I have thought to myself that I should call her to tell her something, only to remember that she’s gone.... I miss her terribly.
Last year, when I heard the news about Grandma, I flew back to ND as quickly as I could. In addition to the grieving part (and the blessing of being able to grieve with my family), there was lots to be done: arrangements to be made, an obituary to be written, a funeral service to be confirmed (though true to Grandma’s nature, she had already left written instructions in her Bible of what she wanted in the service), photos to be compiled, scanned & turned into tribute collages.
Food really wasn’t at the top of our lists. Usually, food & making food is a very therapeutic process for me, but sometimes, there are other tasks that take precedent.
But that’s when the outpouring of love from friends and neighbors began. So many people showed us their support and love by bringing food. Every time we turned around, someone was knocking at the door, ready to give their condolences, share in our grief & bless us with some sort of delicious food. Baked goods, sandwich ingredients, casseroles, soup, beverages.... I can’t even remember everything!
I do know what a huge blessing it was to not have to think as much about food. And while I know it isn’t exactly a great thing to “eat your feelings,” sometimes just knowing you could go to the kitchen for a cookie (or anything else) really helped. In those days right before and right after the funeral, we ate most of what people brought. Some things we froze for Grandpa to eat after everyone had gone back home.
One food gift in particular has stayed on my mind, even a whole year later. Chocolate Sauce. Mom and I stayed with Grandpa in the couple of weeks following the funeral. There were still so many things to be figured out, not to mention an enormous list of thank-you notes to be written. Barb Kress, a dear friend of my grandparents, brought over a container of the most fudge-y homemade chocolate sauce & a gallon of ice cream. I don’t think I’ve ever had such delicious chocolate sauce! Yes, it was good on the ice cream, but it was also great stirred into a cup of hot coffee, or just eaten by the spoonful. I helped write and address many of the thank you notes &
Even after returning home, I kept thinking about that amazing chocolate sauce.... Craving it even. I looked online & in my many cookbooks for a similar recipe. I made countless batches (it’s a good thing my husband likes chocolate sauce!). Some recipes were good, but none came even close to the sauce that Barb brought us. After many “failed” batches, I wrote her a letter and asked if she would be willing to share her recipe. Thankfully, she was willing :)
On Wednesday, as I reflected once again on Grandma Jones’s passing and all that has happened over the last year, I made a batch of the chocolate sauce. I enjoyed the therapeutic process of measuring, melting, pouring, stirring and tasting. I am comforted knowing my dear Grandma is in heaven and that I’ll see her again one day. At the same time, though, I’m so very sad that she’s gone. I know she would hate that anyone is sad about her. But I also know how much of a chocoholic she was :) And she would approve of chocolate sauce therapy.
recipe adapted from Barb Kress courtesy of her Grandma Bohlman
This chocolate sauce is really more fudge-y than syrup-y. My husband tasted it & told me “it tastes like eating brownie batter.” Note that it may not be completely smooth, but I tend to really love the grainy consistency of it. One full batch does make quite a bit, so I might be tempted to make a half batch in the future, simply because I have little to no self control over eating it by the spoonful!
4 oz Unsweetened Chocolate (Barb recommends using the pre-melted chocolate, but my grocery store didn’t have it, so I used the regular)
1/2 c / 1 stick / 4 oz Unsalted Butter
1/2 tsp Salt
3 c / 21 oz Granulated Sugar
1 c / 8 fl oz Evaporated Milk
- Melt chocolate in microwave: begin with a 30 second interval on high, then stir, then repeat on 15 second intervals (with stirring) until chocolate is melted. Alternately, if you find the pre-melted chocolate, place the packets in a bowl of warm water to warm them.
- In a 3 qt sauce pan over low heat, melt the butter. On our electric stove, I set it to a level 2 heat. Once melted, add the melted chocolate and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Alternate adding the sugar and the evaporated milk, little by little, constantly mixing. Keep the heat very low & do not allow the mixture to bubble. Keep heating & stirring until the sugar has dissolved. This process may take 15 to 20 minutes, but the results are worth it! Check to see if the sugar is dissolved by rubbing some of it between your clean fingers (it should not ever be hot enough to burn you) or by tasting it.
- Remove from the heat, transfer to a storage container and allow to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. As time goes on, the sauce may become a bit grainy (but I tend to like the grainy effect).
Barb’s recommended way to serve: pour a little chocolate sauce into a bowl. Microwave to warm, then scoop ice cream directly on top of the warmed sauce & spoon the sauce over the ice cream. Less dishes that way :)
One final note: the authentic blue ball jar, the ice cream vessel, and the spoon pictured in this post are all treasured pieces from my prop collection and were given to me by Grandma Jones.