Yield: 2 cups (can halve)

I think the best chocolate sauces are the simplest: just full-on flavor from chocolate and cream (a classic ganache), with few other distractions. I like to use bittersweet chocolate, and although recipes always say to chop it, I never do, and find it still all melts easily. You can, in a pinch, use chocolate chips, preferably good-quality ones such as Guittard. You can enrich the sauce with butter, and a touch of vanilla rounds out the flavor, but both can easily be left out. Great for ice cream, this sauce also plays well with strawberries, blueberries, apples, pears, oranges and even cantaloupe. It dresses up apple tarts and poached pears, makes a decadent drizzle over a blueberry fool (briefly cooked, lightly sweetened berries mashed and folded into whipped cream), and acts like fondue for strawberry, banana and orange slices.

6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (1 cup chips, if using), broken up by hand
1 cup (8 ounces) heavy cream
2 teaspoons minced rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Put chocolate in a medium bowl. In a medium pan, bring cream and rosemary leaves just to a simmer. Immediately pour through a strainer over chocolate and butter, if using; let stand 2 minutes. Whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth. Whisk in vanilla, if using. Serve warm; chill leftovers for several weeks and very gently reheat as needed in a microwave.

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