As part of my candy-writin’ job at About.com, I get a lot of emails from people I don’t know. A lot.
Most of them are perfectly lovely and are a pleasure to answer. Some are completely baffling. Some are a bit insulting, in the please-provide-me-with-free-consulting-work sort of way. And some—my very favorite type—provide inspiration for new candies to make or recipes to try.
I recently got an email from an Australian reader who asked if I knew how she could make Milky Way spread at home. This email made me sad for several reasons:
1) I’ve never been to Australia. Here I am with a serious kangaroo fetish and no way to indulge it. Hmph.
2) I’ve never tasted Milky Way spread, and had to do a google search to figure out what it is.
3) Apparently, Milky Way spread is a magical chocolatey spread with stripes of…white chocolate? marshmallow? the google machine was unclear…but it looks delicious!
4) Being a Milky Way spread ignoramus, I was unable to truly answer her question.
It was a sobering email day, indeed.
After I got over my disappointment at the lack of Australia-visiting and Milky Way spread-eating in my life, I started obsessing about making my own chocolate spread.
Think about it: Nutella hogs all of the glory! Sure, it has a little cocoa in it, but at heart it’s a hazelnut spread (or a hydrogenated palm oil spread, if we’re being brutally honest) with a little touch of chocolate flavor. The spread I wanted to make was deeply, intensely chocolately, without nuts or any other fillers getting in the way.
This recipe is built on two of my favorite ingredients: chocolate and butter. It has a small amount of vanilla, and a pinch of salt, but it’s really all chocolate, all the time. When it’s first made it has the consistency of hot fudge sauce (and I won’t stop you if you want to pour it all over ice cream, cake, your hands, etc…) but once it’s chilled it’s gorgeously rich and smooth, with a consistency that’s perfect for spreading on toast or using as a dip for fresh fruit.
Oh, and did I mention that it takes mighty well to a sprinkling of crunchy toasted coconut (or nuts) on top? Because it does. Yessir. I can also recommend it straight from the spreading knife. Ahem.
Ultimately some good did come from that email. I may not have recreated Milky Way spread, and I may not get to ride a kangaroo in the near future, but I have enough chocolate spread to last me at least a week, and that’s good enough for now.
Lick-the-Knife-Clean Chocolate Spread
yield: about 1-1/2 cups spread
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
5 ounces unsalted butter, softened and cubed
In a small saucepan, combine the water, granulated sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, and salt. Place the pan over medium heat and stir until the sugar and cocoa powder dissolve. Continue to heat the pan, stirring frequently, just until it reaches a simmer.
Once simmering, remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla extract, chopped chocolate, and cubed butter. Whisk until the chocolate and butter melt and the mixture is completely smooth. When it is freshly made, this spread will have the consistency of hot fudge sauce.
Pour the spread into a jar or other container with a lid. Press a layer of plastic wrap on top of the chocolate to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate it until it thickens. If it is too cold to spread easily, let it sit at room temperature for a short while before serving. Store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.