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I’m not one of those people who dream in chocolate. It’s a fine flavor, just not my favorite.

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My sweet cravings revolve around more lemony or caramel-flavored offerings.

As with most things in life, and in the kitchen, there are exceptions. For instance, one of my favorite cakes is a German chocolate cake – with extra frosting, please. Oh, and it has to be the recipe from the Baker’s chocolate bar. That’s what a German chocolate cake should taste like – very little chocolate flavor – and a big bang from the coconut and caramel-like binding that holds it all together.

It seems that I’m all about chocolate as long as a copious amount of caramel is involved, which explains my attraction to a Snickers. And if you throw in my fondness for bourbon, make mine Maker’s Mark, then it makes complete sense that I would tweak a long-time favorite dessert sauce that I’ve been preparing and teaching in classes since the early 90s. That’s right, I added bourbon to the mix.

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I don’t know what I’ve been waiting for, it’s far superior to the original, which was pretty good. I admit that I came this close to using chipotle-and-bacon-infused bourbon, but I was afraid that the intense dark chocolate might eclipse the flavor of the chilies and bacon, and that would be a shame. If you’d like to try it, feel free and let me know. I don’t doubt that I’ll eventually do it myself since the curiosity is getting to me.

This is an easy, straightforward sauce to make. It uses no corn syrup and refrigerates beautifully. This spiked caramel chocolate sauce makes an ideal gift. It starts out about the consistency of heavy cream but thickens upon cooling, and totally holds its shape when poured over ice cream. The texture is buttery smooth with all three of the main flavor components – caramel, chocolate and bourbon – front and center.

Warnings:

Make sure that when you add the bourbon, that the pan is off the heat, and that the burner is turned off, especially if you’re using a gas range. There’s enough alcohol in the bourbon to wreak a bit of havoc if it gets near a flame.

And if anyone has any issues with alcohol, then keep in mind that much of the alcohol isn’t burned off. I did it on purpose because I wanted the bourbon to be obvious. But it isn’t true that cooking burns off the alcohol in most cases. Much of it remains even after long cooking times.

Cheers!

Bourbon Caramel Chocolate Sauce

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed

4 tablespoons sweet butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup Maker’s Mark bourbon

3 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate

In a heavy bottomed, medium saucepan, add brown sugar and butter. Bring to a boil, over medium high heat, stirring to combine. When it starts to boil, stop stirring and let it bubble for about two to three minutes until it reaches a soft ball stage. If you place a drop in a glass of cold water, the sugary ball that forms won’t be rock hard. It should keep its shape and be pliable. If the drop disintegrates in the water, it needs to cook a little longer.

When the sugar and butter mixture reaches the soft ball stage, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for just a minute or so. Then slowly add the cream, stirring until well blended. Return to heat and let it bubble for about a minute. Turn off heat. Stir in the bourbon.

Add the chocolate and let it melt, then whisk until smooth.

Makes about 1-and-1/2 cups of sauce. Refrigerate when cool.

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This sauce doesn’t need a lot of attention, just get the sugar and butter nice and smooth, then let it bubble on its own

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This is not quite a soft ball stage, it’s a little beyond that, but still pliable enough that it won’t have a negative effect on the sauce. And once the cream and bourbon are added, it won’t be an
issue at all.

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Once the chocolate has melted, use a whisk to get the sauce silky smooth.

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I found this adorable little 10-ounce warming pitcher at Cost Plus World Market ($7.99) this weekend. It’s hollow so that you
can pour hot water inside, then replace the cork and the contents remain warm. However, I plan to buy a new, higher quality cork because I broke it the first day. It pretty much crumbled. Otherwise, this is a terrific little pitcher.

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The sauce makes a perfect spiked hot fudge sundae.

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