Best Ever Hot Fudge Sauce

Along with a visit to the mighty Colosseum, a ride in a gondola Venice, and a trip to the magical Fontana di TreviI'd also put gelato high on the list of  "must dos" when one visits Italy. It may not be a centuries old structure or a priceless work of art, but the consumption of gelato is a main event, a true cultural experience that one must partake in before leaving Italy (or as often as possible if one lives in Italy, no matter the season) and rightly so. After all, gelato, when done well, is a marvelous thing, elegant in its simplicity -- at most served with a dollop of freshly whipped cream -- with pure, clean flavors. Pistachio gelato for example is an earthy pale green, tasting purely of pistachio, and strawberry gelato, when done correctly, tastes just like a frozen strawberry. The flavors tend to be classic and straightforward -- stracciatella, cioccolato, fior di latte -- and there's nothing better on a Summer day.   

(Or is there?)

....ahh, the all-American Hot Fudge Sundae! While Italy's gelato shines in its simplicity and finesse, the Hot Fudge Sundae sparkles in all its indulgent, extravagant splendor, or rather: a scoop (or two, or three) of ice cream, of any over-the-top flavor -- mint chocolate chip cookie or peanut butter cup for example, none of which would ever be found in Italy -- topped with a swirl of whipped cream, a pool of hot fudge sauce, and a handful of colorful sprinkles or, if you're my sister Alexandra, a handful of M&Ms. 

But let's talk hot fudge sauce! As you could probably have guessed, HFS is the main player in a "Hot Fudge Sundae" but probably not so familiar to non-Americans. Hot Fudge Sauce is a dense, intensely chocolate-y sauce that is served warm over ice cream. It is a glorious delicious addition to the already gloriously delicious thing called ice cream, not to mention extremely nostalgic for me -- it reminds me of trips to Hilltop Creamery in Rhode Island when I was little, where Hot Fudge Sundaes were the highlight of a Summer evening. This recipe here brings a little bit of Rhode Island to my kitchen in Rome, and, as the name implies, is truly the best hot fudge sauce I've ever had, addictive-ly, this-might-not-make-it-from-the-stove-to-the-jar good, deeply chocolate-y and just sweet enough, and if you're hesitant about making HFS from scratch, trust me -- it takes 10 minutes to whip up and tastes 100 times better than anything you could buy in the supermarket. It can also be kept on hand, stored in the fridge, so you can have HFS whenever you want (!!!) no trips to the nearest ice cream parlor needed.

...and as far as the gelato vs hot fudge sundae debate goes? I can appreciate both the pureness of gelato and the extravagance of a sundae, I think, and if you want the best of both worlds, do as I did here -- top pistachio gelato with hot fudge sauce and call it an Italo-American sundae. 

A couple of notes: This recipe comes from Gourmet Magazine but has been adapted by my favorite food blogger, Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen. Deb, genius that she is, points out that you can also add cinnamon, peppermint extract, a bit of coffee, a dab of almond extract, or even a tablespoon or two of peanut butter to this hot fudge sauce to take it in a different direction. For those of you in Rome: I get my corn syrup from Castroni (or if you too happen to work at FAO, from the Commissary -- get over there before it closes!) but if you can't find corn syrup, honey or golden syrup will work just as well. Note that the hot fudge sauce can be stored in a jar with a tight fitting lid for up to a month, though I doubt it will last that long. As you can see, I stored mine in a dulce de leche jar left over from making these

For more recipes related to ice cream and other frozen desserts, allow me to recommend: these Raspberry Yogurt Popsicles, this Vanilla Salted Caramel Ice Cream, these Nutella Banana Fudge Pops, this Gelato al cioccolato, orrrrr these Butterscotch Pudding Pops.

For more super fudge-y, chocolate-y recipes, check out this

2 tablespoon (30 grams) unsalted butter
2/3 cup (155 ml) heavy or whipping cream
1/2 cup (170 grams) light corn syrup (or golden syrup or honey)
1/4 cup (50 grams) packed dark or light brown sugar
1/4 cup (20 grams) cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces (170 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or 1 cup semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the butter, cream, syrup or honey of your choice, brown sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium low heat and whisk together until everything is melted and starts to simmer.
Simmer for three or so minutes, whisking, then take off the heat. Add the chocolate chips or chocolate and whisk until melted, then add the vanilla and whisk again.
Let the fudge sauce cool for about 15-20 minutes, then ladle generously over the ice cream of your choice. Makes about 2 cups.

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