I think one of the best things in this entire world is plain vanilla ice cream served with a rich hot fudge sauce. So simple and yet so perfect. Add some nuts to the mix and I’m ecstatic. As a kid my parents walked all of us to Bergens Dairy about once a week for an ice cream cone and a birthday meant we could order something special beyond the standard 2 scoop cone. My siblings always went for the banana split because it was the biggest thing on the menu but I just wanted a hot fudge sundae with nuts. If they would have added just banana? OK, that I like too but long term, it’s the vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce that have always done me in. Of more importance than anything was that sauce and I think that after a fair amount of trial and error that I’ve finally come up with the Best Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce EVER!
Over the years I’ve bought my fair share of hot fudge sauce from the market and yet none ever seemed to compare to those childhood memories of a sauce just rich enough and just sweet enough that dreams were built on knowing one was coming. It took me a bit but I finally recognized the truth. It wasn’t just a memory that was elevated because of the beauty of childhood rituals; the fact is that you will never find a packaged product in the grocery store that can compare to a homemade version.
When the ingredients start with ‘High Fructose Corn Syrup’ and end with ‘Artificial Vanillin Flavor’ I’m sort of nonplussed. Besides…this hot fudge sauce is SO easy; easier to whip up at home than to spend the time even remembering to write it on your grocery list…perfect right? I’ve tried several different concoctions to get to what I would call the best too. I’ve used cocoa and corn syrup and different kinds of chocolate but none compared to this one that combines all I think is necessary to make it the BEST!
They key to the success of this Hot Fudge Sauce? Well, a couple of things. First…I add a bit of dry espresso powder to everything chocolate. It’s magical; elevating the chocolate without actually making it taste like coffee. So perfect. Equally important for this recipe is to use brown sugar instead of white granulated sugar. That bit of molasses in the brown sugar adds just one more element of richness that I love. But for it be the best EVER? I combine both semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate with milk chocolate. I know there are fans of both and truthfully if you’re passionate about one or the other then simply make this with what you love because we all know that ‘best’ is highly subjective but I think combining the two is perfect. Deep and rich from the dark chocolate but tempered just slightly with the milk chocolate component. So amazing; really the best.
When I made this sauce, I used it to make what I call ‘Deconstructed Drumsticks.’ I just spoon some hot fudge over the ice cream, sprinkle with toasted walnuts and then top with a sugar cone. The kids love them but don’t take my word for how good they are; just trust my neighbor Casey who ate two of them! Whether you eat this over ice cream, on waffles or even straight from the jar with a spoon (yes, I might have…so??) I know you’ll love it too. I don’t call it the best for no reason!
Best Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup half & half
- 6 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
- 1 teaspoon espresso
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- Combine the butter and half and half in a double boiler or a saucepan that you've set over another larger pot with simmering water. Warm until the butter is melted. Whisk together.
- Add the chocolate, espresso, brown sugar, vanilla, and sea salt to the mixture and bring to a simmer; whisking continuously until smooth.
- Use an immersion blender (or pour mixture into a countertop blender) and blend until smooth and shiny.
- Cool.slightly before serving warm over your favorite ice cream.
- Refrigerate to store; heat in warm water or microwave on low power before using.