An old saying claims that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. That may be true, but if you're a woman, when the going gets tough, you run for chocolate.
Is there anything more decadent, more soothing, more melt-in your-mouth delectable than a piece of chocolate? Dark, milk or white ...
When I was a child, I can remember going to a doctor's appointment and then being rewarded with a chocolate milkshake at the drug store afterward. (Ah, drug stores ... home to vanilla and chocolate sodas, lime rickeys, milkshakes and frosts. Those were the days! It's no wonder I was always overweight ...)
In times of stress, I have been known to scour the house in a desperate search for anything chocolate. I hate to admit this, but nothing is safe. I've made brownies and cakes from mixes or even mixed together homemade versions to satisfy my chocolate cravings. I have torn open bags of chocolate chips and even eaten a handful of chocolate sprinkles in a pinch.
I've tried keeping a secret stash of emergency chocolate hidden from my family for those times when I really couldn't make it through the night without a chocolate fix. Unfortunately, they usually found my hiding places. And one time, the dog found it and had to have her stomach pumped. I ended up with a $300 vet bill -- and no chocolate in the house to take the sting out of it.
I am ashamed to admit I pilfered (which seems like a much nicer word than stole) chocolate candy out of our son's Halloween trick-or-treat bag and his Easter basket -- Cadbury mini-eggs are my favs -- when he was little.
So, it should come as no surprise that my recipe box is filled with all things chocolate, garnered from some of my favorite women. (I guess men just don't get the chocolate fixation.)
From a farewell party for a Transcript co-worker many years ago, comes this recipe for Death By Chocolate, which was created by Kathleen Houlihan, who was dating the sports editor at the time. The recipe calls for using chocolate cake, but she told me it was even more fabulous with brownies.
Death By Chocolate
1 chocolate cake mix, made according to directions on the package and baked, and then broken into bite-size pieces
2 boxes instant chocolate pudding, made according to the package directions
6 small Heath or Skor candy bars, crushed
16 ounce container Cool Whip
In bowl or deep pan, layer half the cake pieces, half the pudding, sprinkle half the candy pieces, and top with half of the Cool Whip. Repeat layers, ending with a layer of the crushed candy bars.
Our friend Lorraine Robinson, who my husband and I met in a water aerobics class at the YMCA, made Brownie Candy Cups for our son's swim meets a few times. They sold out almost immediately, but not before I managed to try one myself.
Brownie Candy Cups
1 package fudge brownie mix
2 or 3 eggs (follow brownie mix directions for making cake-like brownies)
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup oil
24 to 30 mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, unwrapped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 24 to 30 2-inch foil cupcake liners in mini-muffin tins or on a cookie sheet.
Combine brownie mix, eggs, water and oil in bowl. Stir until blended. Place 2 tablespoons batter in each cupcake liner. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and push a peanut butter cup into the center of each brownie. Bake 5 to 7 minutes more. Remove from oven and let cool.
Another of my favorite chocolate fixes, came off a container of Cool Whip many years ago. I can't tell you how many family dinners I made it for. The good part is that because it uses mostly prepackaged ingredients, it only takes 10 minutes to make -- and 4 hours to freeze (Not really conducive for a chocolate emergency.) To make it even more decadent, I use an Oreo Cookie crumb crust.
German Sweet Chocolate Cream Pie
1 package (4 ounce) Baker's German Sweet Chocolate
1/3 cup milk, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 cups Cool Whip, thawed
8-inch graham cracker crumb crust
Heat chocolate and 2 tablespoons of the milk in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until chocolate is melted. Beat sugar into the cream cheese, add remaining milk and chocolate mixture and beat until smooth. Fold in whipped topping, blending until smooth. Spoon into crust. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours. Garnish with chocolate curls if desired.
Margaret Button is the city editor of the North Adams Transcript. Send recipes for inclusion in future columns to the North Adams Transcript, 85 Main St., Suite 2, North Adams, Mass. 01247 or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.