An All American Dessert

July 2, 2013

The Great Hot Fudge Sundae

Quick. What’s the best food pairing you can think of?  If you didn’t immediately answer hot fudge and vanilla ice cream, we may have to revoke your passport.  There are hundreds of perfect pairings – bacon and eggs, peanut butter and jelly, rice and beans – but none is as wonderful as the pure black and white simplicity of hot fudge and vanilla ice cream. 

Hot and cold. Black and white. Sticky and smooth. But best of all is the way hot fudge makes vanilla ice cream taste more like vanilla, and vanilla ice cream makes the densest hot fudge reveal new aspects of its personality. 

If you’ve been buying banal bottled hot fudge and bland vanilla ice cream, this may be news to you. But hot fudge is easy: nothing you can do in the kitchen offers bigger rewards for so little effort.  As for ice cream, there are many excellent brands out there, but ice cream is always at its best when it is freshly made and eaten right out of the churn.

A few hints:

1.Use the best, deepest, densest, chocolatiest chocolate you can find.  In this case, better really is better.

2. Corn syrup has a bad reputation, but you really do need it to give your hot fudge body and shine.  Why?  Because corn syrup is an invert sugar, which means that it prevents sugar crystals from forming without adding too much sweetness.

3. You need cocoa powder for the fudgey flavor, and chocolate for the fudgey texture.

4. And you need a little bit of instant espresso.  Coffee has the magical ability to make chocolate taste more like chocolate.  A little pinch of instant espresso powder makes the chocolate flavor leap right to the forefront (and you will never taste the coffee)..

Hot Fudge

2/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

pinch of salt

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon instant coffee powder

1 teaspoon vanilla 

Mix the cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, salt and cocoa powder together in a small (1-2 quart) heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Add half the chocolate and stir, over medium heat, until the chocolate is melted.

Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until it’s smooth. 

Add the butter, remaining chocolate, vanilla and coffee and keep stirring, off the heat, until it is smooth and shiny. 

Pour it over vanilla ice cream and revel in the flavor.

The sauce will keep, in covered jar in the refrigerator, for a couple of weeks.  

 

Vanilla Ice Cream (adapted from David Leibovitz)

 1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large vanilla bean, split lengthwise

2 cups whipping cream

5 large egg yolks

Stir the sugar and salt into the milk in a small saucepan over low heat. With a small knife, slit the vanilla bean open and scrape the seeds into the milk mixture.  Throw in the bean pod as well. When it is warm, cover the pan, take it off the heat, and let it sit for an hour so that the milk soaks up all the vanilla flavor.

Put a small (2-quart bowl) inside a large one that is filled, about half way, with an ice and water mixture.  Put the cream into the small bowl to keep it cold. 

Separate the eggs, and save the whites for another use.  Gently stir the yolks in a small bowl.  Reheat the milk, very gently, pour a bit of the warm into the yolks, whisking constantly, and then pour the now warm yolks into the milk in the pan.  Cook, over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coat a spatula.

Put a strainer over the bowl of chilled cream and slowly strain the yolk/milk custard into the cream.  Stir over the ice until it is cold, and put in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, until it is completely cold. Longer is better.

Take the vanilla bean out of the mixture and freeze the ice cream in an ice cream maker. 

Makes about 1 quart

 

 

 

 

 

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