Not too sweet, this slightly bitter hot fudge sauce pairs beautifully with maple-sweetened vanilla ice cream. This is my favorite treat!
Would You Rather?
My children love to play this game with each other in the car called Would You Rather? So here goes my version: Would you rather have a bowl of plain vanilla ice cream for dessert, or sit down with your feet in a foot soak with a bowl of homemade vanilla ice cream smothered in hot fudge sauce, topped with whipped cream, and sprinkled with toasted almonds? Okay so that’s a no-brainer. I was never really good at the “Would You Rather” game because I don’t like having to make choices, especially ones where two choices involve some kind of torture. My kid’s rathers are like, “Would you rather jump off a cliff or listen to rap music for 40 hours straight?” I would never rather do either, so I don’t play along well. Usually I am asking for a door number three.
Everything is Amazing When it is Sauced
The longer I live, the more I realize life is better when it is sauced. More than any other food recipes I collect or create, sauces are the most vital thread in cooking. They are hands down what can take a food from good to yumialized…instantly. Sauces communicate care and excellence, celebration and compatibility. They are what can separate a good cook from an exceptional cook. If you can master a few good sauces, you are on your way to culinary brilliance. This hot fudge sauce is right up there with my list of favorite sauces. Nothing you can purchase in the store compares.
Why This Recipe Works
Most store-bought hot fudge sauce labels contain high fructose corn syrup, fillers, and thickeners. Not to mention the fact that they are super sweet. This recipe works because it is made with bittersweet chocolate, which tones down the sweetness. We have been conditioned to crave mostly sweet and salty, but the tongue actually has receptors on the upper surface that are involved in detecting five elements of taste perception: saltiness, sweetness, bitterness, sourness, and umami. Translate please…the more we involve all areas of the tongue in a food experience, the happier we will be and the more trained our palette will become.
What I love about this recipe is how it pairs so beautifully with my favorite maple syrup sweetened homemade vanilla ice cream. The sweetness of the ice cream and the bitter sweetness of the hot fudge allows the flavors to mingle in the mouth, involving more of those taste receptors. I call it mouthfeel, because the experience actually shakes the tongue out of its complacency to discover something new and exciting. You could also go one step further and add espresso powder along with your cocoa to enhance the chocolate flavor. How’s that for saucing?
Bitter Flavor is our Friend
Bitter is a flavor that most people tend to avoid and yet God designed the bitter flavor to trigger digestion. When our mouth tastes something bitter, it immediately sends out messages to release digestive enzymes in the mouth to start breaking down food. The same with sourness. Have you ever thought about a lemon and instinctively puckered or felt your mouth fill with saliva as if you were actually taking a bite? Amazingly, this is the body’s response to digestion.
Not that we want to talk about digestion when we are craving a sundae. Sorry, I forgot we were talking about hot fudge sauce. The teacher in me jumps out occasionally and I love to know the reason for everything. Back to hot fudge sauce…
Recipe for Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce
- 4 T grass-fed butter
- 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate baking bars (I use 2 out of the 3 Guittard 70% Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bars- 4 oz total)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened dutch-process cocoa (I use Guittard Cocoa Rouge)
- 1/4 tsp espresso powder (optional- intensifies the chocolate flavor)
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 cup organic heavy cream
- 1 T pure vanilla extract
- In a 4 qt saucepan, melt butter and chocolate over medium heat.
- Whisk in salt, espresso powder (if using), and cocoa until blended.
- Add maple syrup and whisk rapidly for about 30 seconds.
- Pour in the heavy cream and whisk an additional 2 minutes until the sauce bubbles and thickens.
- Remove from heat and add in the vanilla. Be careful when adding the vanilla to the hot sauce as it does sputter!
- Cool slightly and serve overtop homemade vanilla ice cream.