Raspberry-Chocolate Sundae Topper

Heat the topping up to release the aroma of rich chocolate and fresh raspberries. To use the hot topping on ice cream, allow it to cool slightly – and don’t forget to add dessert candies for an elegant look.

The holidays are here - and while this is something you might can when raspberries are on the vine, there is no reason why you couldn't use frozen raspberries or even store-bought raspberries to make this recipe.

Simply preserve the extra by canning it and you will have a delightful dessert topper you can pull from your pantry whenever guests arrive.  Keep in mind that this particular recipe is more than just a sundae topper - it is an ideal topping for fruit, cheesecake and other desserts. Use your imagination and you will find numerous uses for this delicious recipe.

Jeffrey Rhoades found the raspberry-chocolate sundae topper very much to his liking. So much so – in fact – that he asked for seconds.

When making this recipe, keep in mind that canning anything that contains chocolate is tricky because you need to make sure the pH is right or the food will spoil. Chocolate is naturally low in acidity, so by combining a high-acid fruit with the chocolate, you alter the pH and thus make it safe to can. Here is the recipe - and the canning instructions.

A sealed jar of the raspberry-chocolate sundae topper fresh from the pantry.

Raspberry-Chocolate Sundae Topper

4 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

1 package powdered fruit pectin

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used a dark chocolate cocoa powder)

4 1/2 cups crushed raspberries

6 3/4 cups granulated cane sugar

1. Put the cocoa powder and pectin in a small bowl. Stir them until they are well-blended, then set the bowl aside.

2. Put the crushed raspberries and lemon juice into a stainless steel saucepan.

3. Whisk the fruit pectin mixture into the raspberry mixture.

4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat while continually stirring.

5. Add the sugar while continuing to stir.

6. Bring the contents of the pan to a hard boil and keep it there for one minute while continually stirring.

7. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off the foam.

8. Ladle the hot sundae topper in hot, sterilized pint-size canning jars.

9. Wipe the rim of each jar, put the lid on the jar and tighten the band until it is fingertip-tight.

10. Place the jars in a cold pack canner filled with boiling water. Process for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, turn off the heat and let the jars sit in the water for an additional five minutes, then remove the jars.

11. Tighten the bands if necessary so they are fingertip-tight again. Allow the jars to sit overnight to cool, then check the lid by gently prying on it to make sure it is sealed. If it is sealed, label and store the jars in a cool, dry, dark place.

Jars that are not sealed need to be checked to make sure there are no cracks or chips across the top of the jar. Do not reuse the lids if they do not seal – instead put a big black X on them and use them for sealing jars filled with herbs or other dried goods. You can use a new lid and try to reseal the jar or put it into the fridge and use it up.

Make sure the water is about 1/4 of the way up the jar. I sat the jar in the pan of water, then turned the heat on to avoid taking the chance of the jar cracking or bursting.

If you like, you can gently heat this sundae topper up before serving it by either sitting the open canning jar into a pan filled with a bit of boiling water or by scooping the sundae topper out of the canning jar and putting it into a double boiler until it begins to melt just slightly.

Keep in mind that raspberries contain seeds - and those seeds - if they are not removed before you crush the raspberries - will end up in the topping. The seeds are edible, but some people do not like seeds in their topping.

Author - The Complete Idiot's Guide To Year Round Gardening, The Complete Idiot's Guide To Seed Saving & Starting, 101 English Garden Tips, Magical Gardens, Perspective Visions: Enigmatic Masterpieces. Visit http://experimentalhomesteader.com

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