Oh Fudge: Simply the Best Hot Fudge
A Pandemic Is No Time To Forgo Hot Fudge, Travel Notebooks for Subscribers, An Upcoming Talk about Social Justice
Happy New Year! It’s 2022. Woot! We are still wearing masks, staying home, canceling plans, reverting to pods. There’s even talk of a fourth shot. Having fun yet? No, really. If I’ve learned anything during this time from the Taoist teachings that come with my tai chi practice (and I’ve learned many), it’s that one important way to maintain balance is to live fully in the present. It’s as unhelpful and perhaps unrealistic to wait for things to return to the way they were, as it is to wait for them to become something different in the future. If we live for today we can take advantage of the opportunities we have at this moment, in this time. And for me, that’s where cooking comes in. Focusing my energies and my mind on making delicious things, learning more about food, supporting local producers, and sharing this information with you has been the gift of this moment for me. I encourage you to spend more time in the kitchen. May you achieve whatever you hope for this year. —Mitchell
January is supposed to be the month when we cleanse ourselves of our holiday indulgences and leave all our bad behaviors of the previous year behind. It’s usually the month our willpower is strongest so we can stick to our resolutions to eat better, exercise more, learn a new language, organize our cupboards, be the person we aspire to be—for a few weeks, at least. Well, I say…fudge to all that. Nothing feels normal as we enter the third year of this pandemic, least of all time, the passage of which speeds and slows and stretches in all directions. What does January even mean anymore? The fact that it was 60°F. here in New York last Sunday doesn’t help.
So, here’s a recipe for my full-fat, full-flavor hot fudge sauce that I suggest you make and pour on some rich ice cream as soon as you can. Why wait? We always have hot fudge in our freezer because it makes Nate very happy. In fact, I was just replenishing our stores when I decided this was the recipe of the week.
The recipe for this sauce was first given to me 30 years ago by Dawn Rose, who was then pastry chef at a small restaurant in Boston named Olives, whose chef, Todd English, was just beginning to gain national attention. I was the executive editor of Art Culinaire magazine at the time, and we were doing a profile on English. To be honest, I can’t recall any of the other recipes from that feature, but I’ve been making chef Rose’s Hot Fudge Sauce ever since.
I recall Rose told me that she designed the sauce so it could stay warm for several hours, the duration of service in the restaurant, while maintaining its texture and flavor. I’ve come to believe that whatever properties that were required for her needs are what make it the best hot fudge sauce you will ever make. It isn’t chocolate sauce or ganache—it is most decidedly hot fudge. We keep it in the freezer, where it remains just soft enough to be able to scoop out a portion or two to zap in the microwave for 15 or 20 seconds That’s all it takes to become hot and bubbly, perfect to pour over ice cream or profiteroles. It doesn’t harden immediately when it hits the cold, which is also part of its appeal.
I suspect the corn syrup is probably responsible for this textural appeal, in combination with all that cream, butter, sugar and chocolate. If you’d rather use another lquid sweetener, I’d suggest maple syrup, a light honey, or even date syrup, though the flavor and texture will vary.
You will be tempted to use the best chocolate and cocoa you can find, as I have been on occasion. But to be honest, ordinary chocolate chips and cocoa powder produce very fine results.
RECIPE : Simply the Best Hot Fudge Sauce
180 g (6 ounces) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, i.e., 60 to 80%, chopped, or just as well, chocolate chips
170 g (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
¼ cup espresso or strong coffee
1 cup heavy cream
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup corn syrup, light or dark, or other liquid sweetener (see above)
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
Pinch ground cinnamon
Combine the chocolate, butter and coffee in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and set over low heat. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the butter and chocolate are melted. Don’t rush it or you risk scorching the chocolate. Switch to a whisk and whisk in the cream, sugar, cocoa powder, corn syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt, beating until there are no lumps. Set back over low heat and continue whisking until the sauce is heated through and the sugar is dissolved. To test, tase a bit and if you detect any sugar granules, continue cooking a little longer. Transfer to a quart container and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap pressed on the surface of the sauce, then the cover of the container and refrigerate or freeze until needed. Lick the pot clean.
To use, scoop out a portion or two of sauce into a small microwavable bowl. Zap for 15 to 20 seconds until melted and bubbling. Pour over ice cream. Lick the bowl clean.
An Upcoming Talk about Social Justice
I’ve been invited to the virtual Kitchen Table of the Oxford Food Symposium to participate in a conversation about social justice in the culinary world and the role that culinary organizations play. I’ll be joined by journalist Lisa Abend and Todd Schulkin, executive director of The Julia Child Foundation. The conversation will take place on Tuesday, January 11, at 1 pm ET (18:00 GMT). Learn more and register.
This week I’m trying something different by sending paid subscribers a cheat sheet of places we loved during our recent trip to Paris. I mentioned a couple of them already in Issues #30 and #31, but if you want the complete list, with addresses, phone numbers, websites, and capsule reviews that include advice on what to order, please consider subscribing. Future notebooks will include the inside scoop on Tel Aviv, New York, Milan, and other destinations. Paid subscriptions start as low as $5 per month.