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Chocolate lovers plan perfect potluck.

Byline: ASK MRS. OLIVER by Mrs. Oliver For The Register-Guard

Dear Mrs. Oliver: Every October for many years, several friends have gathered on the last Saturday night of the month to celebrate the fall season. Since we are all confirmed chocolate lovers, the potluck tends to run heavy on desserts and extremely light on protein.

This year, we have limited it to five desserts, and I will bring two of them (my choice) as I am a better baker than cook.

Could you locate a good chocolate souffle recipe for me? I have tried some in the past with terrible results, and I'm hoping you might have tested one that works. Would you also be willing to share a good chocolate cookie recipe? Thank you, Mrs. Oliver, for any help.

- Jennifer Garner, Eugene

Dear Jennifer: Yup, I knew it. The day I start my new diet, your letter arrives. You see, I have a couple of friends who have lost a lot of weight. I seem to have found it.

Both my friends look wonderful. One went to an expensive spa-type place and the other bought a book at Costco.

The spa friend had to wear this tape around her wrist and pull on it, or something like that, when she got a craving for anything other than lettuce. She figured it cost her $375 for each pound she lost and that she will have a scar on her left wrist from the tape pulling.

I got a letter months back from a lady who did her version of the tape method (across her mouth between meals) and succeeded only in not having to visit the beauty shop as often for an upper-lip waxing.

My friend who bought the book, "The South Beach Diet," figured she spent about 50 cents per pound. The logical choice for me was the book, so I headed for Costco. The trip cost me only the price of the book plus a hot dog. (OK, a chocolate yogurt, too.)

I also got some cookbooks that day from Kim Davaz, who writes the cookbook review column for The Register-Guard. One of the books, by Lora Brody, has recipes for a chocolate souffle and a cookie-like bar.

Your get-together sounds like loads of fun. I hope these recipes work out. Have a few bites for me. Please.

The Best Chocolate Souffle

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons instant coffee (if you hate coffee, leave it out)

1 tablespoon instant or quick-mixing flour (such as Wondra)

4 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, cut small

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut small

1 tablespoon sweet (unsalted) butter

4 extra-large eggs at room temperature, separated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Position the oven rack in the upper third of the oven but not the highest one.

Butter a 6-cup or 8-inch-by-2 1/2 -inch souffle dish. Sprinkle the inside with sugar and knock the excess out.

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the sugar, milk and the optional coffee. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and add the flour, stir it in and cook 1 more minute.

Take off the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until melted.

Add the butter and stir until melted.

Add the egg yolks one at a time, stirring after each addition before adding the next.

Beat the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry. Stir a large spoonful of whites into the chocolate mixture in the pan to lighten. Pour the chocolate mixture over the whites and fold together gently but thoroughly. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake 5 to 10 more minutes.

This souffle will not rise dramatically, but the top should be very crusty and the souffle should be firm - not too wiggly when you shake the pan.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately - but it's also delicious at room temperature.

This recipe will serve 4 chocolate freaks or 6 normal people.

Heavenly Oatmeal Bars

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)

1 1/3 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed

3/4 cup light corn syrup

5 1/3 cups quick-cooking oats

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the center position. Coat a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan with butter, vegetable shortening or cooking spray. Cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy. Mix in the corn syrup, oats and vanilla. Spread in the prepared pan and bake 16 minutes. Cool until lukewarm and then spread on the glaze.

For the glaze:

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup creamy peanut butter (can use chunky)

Place the chocolate chips and the peanut butter in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Spread over the warm bars, then cool completely or refrigerate until cold. Then cut into bars.

Makes 60 2-inch-by-1-inch bars.

Mrs. Oliver answers food-related questions. Write to Ask Mrs. Oliver, P.O. Box 1714, Eugene OR 97440. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for replies.
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Column
Date:Oct 8, 2003
Words:850
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