Saturday Make Your Own Sundae Sauces

In the past month I have been to three Bar Mitzvahs, thus doubling the number I have attended in my life time. For someone who grew up in New York City, is Jewish, and is in her 40’s that is a pretty pitiful record. When I revealed my lack of experience in the coming-of-age ceremony of my people to my fellow celebrants, they were shocked. I actually don’t find it that surprising. Being a Jewish teenager in the single-sex, private school world I was a part of was an entirely different experience in the 1970’s than I believe it is now—it was something about your identity that just kind of existed but wasn’t something you purposely drew attention to. I’m not really sure why. And, it was in stark contrast to the kids in the suburbs with whom I spent my summers at camp. Those girls had Bat Mitzvahs, practiced Hebrew on portable tape decks in the bunk, received Cross pens and personalized Lucite clip boards as gifts, and talked about their Torah portions. And it was a totally secular camp. Oddly, I felt like I wasn’t Jewish enough during those eight weeks in Maine and felt conspicuously Jewish the rest of the year.
What I was so struck by, at the services I attended in the last month, was how joyful and celebratory they were. The boys’ friends seemed so comfortable and full of pride. I was envious. There didn’t seem to be any ambivalence when they all leapt to their feet and followed the Bar Mitzvah boys (it was a double whammy, they were twin brothers) around the sanctuary in a rousing dance, they sang along to the Hebrew songs and followed enthusiastically in the prayer books. And, despite having gone to “Wednesday school” at our Reform synagogue through ninth grade, the year we were “confirmed,” I don’t remember any Hebrew and know no songs. I felt totally out of it.
According to my co-guests, the parties were relatively low-key (but lovely) in comparison to some of the over-the-top shindigs you hear about parents giving their 13 year old kids. One friend told me of a family that transformed an enormous, trendy venue into a Moroccan fantasia dubbed “Callie’s Casbah”, complete with live camels! Yet, even in their calmer states, the celebrations were far and above what my siblings had experienced. Yes, I was not a Bat Mitzvah but my younger sister was, because she is a classicist and wanted to study ancient Hebrew. We celebrated her efforts with a family luncheon. And it was always expected that my brother would be a Bar Mitzvah (sexist? Maybe) but even his party consisted of a group of friends and a caricaturist chez Mom and Dad.
So, there was no “Look at us! We’re Jews!!!” when I was a kid. But then again, there are a lot of things that weren’t going on when I was young. Like the get-ups some of these 7th grade girls thought were appropriate. Let’s remember that it was lunchtime; I don’t know about you but I usually wait until dark to break out the gold sequins. I’m also more comfortable when my skirt actually covers my rear. Thank goodness no one dropped anything because none of these girls was in any condition to bend over and retrieve it. The comments coming from my friends missed the point, “Can you believe their mothers let them walk out of the house like that?!” Hello? Who do you think bought the outfit in the first place?!
Everyone talks about how kid-focused our culture is today: from strollers that look like (and cost as much as) an SUV to tutors for anything and everything starting at six months. One thing that I am actively jealous of is the “Kids’ Menu.” Recently, a restaurant opened in Park Slope to much fan fare. Until the patrons realized there was nothing child friendly for their children to eat and made a big stink. And the restaurant responded! I don’t remember any special menu when I was a kid! The thinking was if I was too young to enjoy what the grown-ups ate I was too young to go to a restaurant.
Anyway, not knowing about the prevalence of the Kids’ Menu I completely mis-ate at the Bar Mitzvah parties. Who knew the kids had their own dining room and I could have been eating mac n’ cheese instead of salmon? What a treat! And it wasn’t until I had polished off a piece of chocolate cake (shaped like the open scrolls of the Torah!), a chocolate chip cookie, and a mini-brownie that I learned of the make-your-own-sundae bar. What?! I love making my own sundaes! But even I couldn’t justify a fourth dessert.
I figure I have about three years until my next Bar Mitzvah invitation so I won’t have to confront my religious demons again until then. But next time I’ll be armed with the knowledge that with a little snooping I might be able to nab a chicken finger or two. In the meantime, I can practice my sundae making skills—along with my Hebrew.Note: Obviously, this is my ideal sundae and you should do what makes you happiest. What I chose is a scoop of mint ice cream, topped with the fudge sauce, whipped cream, and sliced almonds AND a scoop of coffee ice cream, topped with the caramel sauce, whipped cream, and chopped hazelnuts. Don't give me hard time about buying cream in a can--there is something about spraying whipped cream which is so much more satisfying than plopping it from a bowl. And it looks prettier. (At least I didn't buy Reddi-Wip! This stuff is all-natural.) I'm also a big fan of fruit and chocolate so my next sundae will be strawberry ice cream and hot fudge!
Saturday Make Your Own Sundae Sauces
from Martha Stewart Everyday Food, June 2010
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Fudge Sauce
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 Tablespoons sweet butter, cut into small pieces
3 ounces (1/2 cup) semi sweet chocolate chips
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate (I used one square of Baker's)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of coarse salt

Combine sugar and cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
When mixture boils stir often until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.
Add butter and chocolates
and stir until chocolate melts and is smooth, 2 minutes.
Stir in vanilla and salt.
Yield: 1 cup

Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup light-brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 Tablespoons sweet butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of coarse salt

Combine sugar, cream and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat
Cook, stirring until butter melts and mixture is smooth.
Reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally for 5 minutes.
Stir in vanilla extract and salt.
Yield: 2/3 cup


Dan Shaw said...

Engraved lucite clipboards. Cross pens. I remember them well. It was another time....Make your own sundaes--nothing is better than that, especially the Miranda Way.

Joseph St. Cyr said...

As you well know, your post today is near and dear to my heart. You're SO right about the young girls' questionable attire. One of these days you'll have to tag along at one of my Mitzvah events.

Carmel and coffee ice cream sundae? Awesome! I'm adding sliced bananas when I make it tomorrow.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I want some of that chocolate fudge sauce with some coffee ice cream, and give me a side of the caramel with butter pecan please. yumm

whisk said...

There is no reason in the world you need to justify a fourth dessert. Unlimited desserts are part of the Jewish tradition.