Thursday, September 13, 2012

Grandmas and Chocolate

Hold on a minute...what's that? Yes, it's International Chocolate Day! Thank God...because without that news, things pretty much stink on ice today.

The middle east is a tinderbox of insanity, unemployment continues to rise and Todd Akin simply will not shut up---so chocolate is looking pretty good about now.

There are many ways to approach this situation.

There are the "desperation measures"---and don't pretend you haven't tried them in the past. These occur when there is no legit chocolate in the house--for example, a few truffles left over from a holiday gift, a sleeve of oreos, a Hershey Bar with almonds that fell off a shelf in the pantry, got wedged in somewhere and is joyously discovered during a routine macaroni run.

Desperation, which can be very satisfying, often includes a handful of chocolate chips or some chocolate syrup (preferably Fox's U-Bet) mixed into milk. These work well if other options are unavailable.
Remember this?

Chocolate is chocolate, people. It is a drug---delicious, yet a narcotic. It is legal, easily available and addictive. Milton Hershey was a drug lord.
Milton Hershey looks innocent enough.

Think about that next time you're having your picture taken with the giant kiss in Chocolate World in Pennsylvania.

I have neither chocolate chips nor syrup in the fridge today and I believe Seth has paid informants to keep an eye on me in our local supermarket so I am forced to go down memory lane for my chocolate fix.

Dangerous bastards.
There are too many happy chocolate memories to count but the one that pops up today is about my grandma.

First to clarify, there exists no one on earth -- past or present -- who could outbake that woman. Flour, eggs and sugar were her bricks and mortar while a whisk and a wooden spoon were the tools that kept dozens of family members enslaved to her talents.

If word got out that " Pssst...Ida is baking, pass it on..." people would show up out of nowhere to visit...and they were never disappointed. "Babka Day" was a national holiday for my family of ravenous Hungarians. And Hungarians know from good baked goods. We have sour cream in our veins.

Grandma would set up for a long day in her tiny Brooklyn kitchen. Working on the formica table (there were no -- as in zero -- counters), she would tie on her ever present apron, fill giant bowls with dry and wet ingredients and crank up the oven in the ancient, enameled stove by the window.

In the years prior to school (school really screwed up my life, come to think of it), I would sit and bear witness, occasionally asked to mix or, even better, taste.

Grandma would bake babkas, some filled with an aromatic combo of cinnamon and walnuts and others with dark, buttery chocolate swirls until there were enough to distribute to every Hungarian east of the Mississippi.
Why a duck???

But Babka Day held a special treat for me.

Grandma would make me a small, personal chocolate babka filled with extra chocolate and in the shape of a duck. It was all mine and I am, literally, drooling at the memory of the tender cake and the deep chocolate that lay within the tender crust. I ate the duck's head first.

Chocolate is special. Grandmas are even better. Now go have some chocolate.


  1. No kidding, ths made me run to the vending machine and buy Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

  2. Eating Oreos as I read this blog. Cheers!

  3. Had brownies for lunch and convinced my roommate to make a chocolate run - Snickers ice cream bars and M&M's!

    I am happy. Thank you for this post today. I aspire to be a baker like your grandmother.

  4. Your post makes me very happy! Such sweet (literally!) memories. And no wonder I was craving chocolate yesterday…

  5. Cheers, Michelle! Are you dunking the Oreos?

  6. Yum , Edith--it appears you were in the spirit of the day!

    Thanks for reading...and as for my grandma's baking, it was tuly extra ordinary!

  7. What did you do to satisfy that craving, Stajie? XXOO

  8. Your Grandma and my Nana - were the same! (I am really not surprised) Nana taught me to bake when I was very young (8) and she raised a family of 5 children in a kitchen smaller than our en-suite bathroom (and that is small!!)
    I'd've eaten the head first too :-) XXX

  9. and, I ate chocolate creme brulee straight from the fridge for breakfast this morning... sigh... diet fail (but, at least it was home-made!)

  10. You resemble your Grandma! As for me chocolate is the only candy I'll touch; but Doug and Amanda love dark chocolate. I like milk.:)