Chocolate sauce and I go way back. There are four kids in my family, so I think it was a permanent fixture in our fridge for, oh, about 22 years. In later childhood, when Hershey’s and glass-jarred fudge sauces started to feel boring, my mom would melt a couple of tablespoons of chocolate chips with a bit of water in a small glass dish in the microwave, and pour the chunky mixture over frozen yogurt topped with roasted, salted almonds. I remember that seeming like a decadent treat, as though we had graduated from the typical store-bought ice cream toppings to something more rich and sophisticated.
I’d like to have a healthy version of chocolate sauce in my repertoire, to dress up fruit, nuts, or the coconut milk “ice cream” we buy occasionally. I like that David Lebovitz’s recipe has no cream or butter, so I adapted it to be even healthier, with less refined sugar, more antioxidants, and a unique fruity tang from the pomegranate juice. This is a grown-up chocolate sauce- not particularly sweet and with a strong flavor of dark chocolate. It is also fairly thin (not that I don’t adore thick fudge sauces).
Of course you could use milk or semisweet chocolate instead of dark, and incorporate another layer of flavor here- orange zest, almond extract, hazelnut extract, fresh pomegranate seeds, etc. Or substitute red wine or a combination of liquor and water for the pomegranate juice. (If you do that, though, you can probably just use one cup of liquid and skip the reduction step. I only started with two cups because I felt like one cup of pomegranate juice wasn’t standing out enough in the finished product.)
I think chopped hazelnuts and/or almonds accompany this nicely, for a little crunch and complementary flavor.
I will note as well that this recipe is fun to make. It is easy and comes together quickly, but you feel as though you are doing something special as you whisk your small, warm pot of muddled ingredients and watch them transform into a smooth, shiny, chocolatey liquid.
Pomegranate Dark Chocolate Sauce
(Adapted from David Lebovitz)
2 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup raw cacao powder (I had this on hand, but I’m sure Dutch-processed cocoa powder would work better)
1 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
chopped almonds and hazelnuts, to garnish
1. Gently simmer the pomegranate juice in a small sauce pan over medium or medium-low heat, stirring often, until it reduces by about half. (It is easy to gauge this if you pour one cup of juice into the pan first, eyeball how high it comes up the side so you have an idea of your target volume, and then add the second cup and starting simmering.)
2. Turn the heat to medium if you had it any lower, and stir in the cacao powder, evaporated cane juice, and honey. Heat just until the mixture comes to a low boil, whisking frequently. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until it is completely melted and smooth.
3. Let the sauce stand for a few hours before storing or serving, to thicken. Keep it in the refrigerator and rewarm gently before using. You’ll find that thick parts of the sauce will rise to the top of your container in the fridge, but if you stir up from the bottom, you’ll bring out the shiny, pretty liquid.
Your sauce should keep for 7 – 10 days. I’ve noticed that the flavor changes day to day. As I write this we’re on day 4 of this batch and I think it tastes much better than day 2 and slightly better than day 1.
Makes almost 2 cups. One pot will fit perfectly into an empty Talenti gelato jar, if anyone else out there thought they were too cute to throw out, even after transitioning from plastic to glass storage containers and from dairy to non-dairy desserts… or was that just me?