Sunday, December 16, 2012


The plan was to give my book-group friends jams, as usual, for Christmas. But, wanting to do something more luxe this year, I consulted the books and decided hot fudge sauce would be perfect. Most people love hot fudge but never make it. And buying? Commercial hot fudge is often low on chocolate, high on sugar syrup, and blah on the tongue. So, decision made, the first pick-up of the day was a box of pint jars from Adler's (no, Home Depot does not carry them). A pint jar of hot fudge is generous (in my not-so-humble book) and may be more than some skinny persons want, so consider half pints (jelly jars). Then I bought cream, chocolate and butter, a lot.

I have some favorite hot fudge sauces. One, from Jacques P├ępin, is slightly bitter, exceptionally smooth, and has only two ingredients, heavy cream and high-end bittersweet chocolate. The other is classic Maida Heatter - thick and fudgy, made with butter, cream, Dutch process cocoa, and light and dark sugars. The third has no name attached to it but is nearly identical to one recently printed in The New York Times and it's rich and creamy.

Figuring how much you need: a class jars has two parts, the main container and the top glass where the screw lid fits. I filled the main container to about 1/2 inch under the glass screw-top band. The following recipe gives you a little more sauce than needed to get to this level so I poured the extra into a second jar and immediately started making another batch of hot fudge. This is easy to do - recipe is fast and simple - so the chocolate will stay warm. I didn't double or triple the recipe, just made batch after batch in the same pan.

Salted Hot Fudge

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (chopped a bit)
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa, sifted
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt (should be very fine if you use sea salt)
2 tsp vanilla

• In a heavy pan melt the chocolate and butter over low heat until melted; stir or whisk

• Add cocoa, sugar and 3/4 of the heavy cream, one at a time. Turn heat up to medium low and stir or whisk constantly for about 3 minutes until sauce is warm and thick (need to whisk constantly so sauce doesn't burn)

• Add the remaining cream and whisk another minute. Sauce will be very smooth.

• Take off the burner and mix in the vanilla and salt. Pour into jar/jars and cool on a rack. Cap the cooled jars and store in the refrigerator.

Cut squares of wrapping paper (Container Store solids are just the right sturdiness) for the lids and use rubber bands (mine are fruit department green from Whole Foods) to hold the paper down. Be creative with tags. I painted cheap packing tie-ons with watercolors, easy enough. Put the jars back in the original carton and all that's left is delivery.

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