Chocoholic: Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

My first job pretty much set my career in motion. I had two choices: It was either going to be Home Depot, in which case I probably would have gone on to become an architect (or latex paint specialist), or Friendly's Ice Cream Shop, which ultimately sucked me into the fast paced world of food service and sweets. For a few years I swallowed my dignity and stuffed myself into a blue and white checked polyester dress and tied it with a navy blue ruffled apron that I always forgot to wash. For a few steamy summers I flipped burgers, took orders for something called a "fishamajig", snuck salty pickles from a bucket in the walk-in, and (way too many times) leaned far too far into the ice cream bins while scooping sundaes in my short skirt. All the while I was stuffing a wad of tips into my pocket that grew to the size of a softball at the end of a decent Saturday night.

By law we had to get some break time, and I'd often spend it in the back room, wolfing down sugary calories with either a Fribble or the most chocolaty dessert I could come up with: double chocolate ice cream with hot fudge and chocolate sprinkles. Hot fudge was by far the most popular topping on the menu. Deeply chocolaty, satiny smooth, and with a viscosity that transformed from warm and gooey to thick and slightly chewy after hitting the freezing cold ice cream.

Assuming that my palate for fine chocolate has developed since my ice-cream-topping-ladling days, I will say that this homemade fudge is the one to beat. Jet black from the cocoa and chocolate, and not too sweet, it's so good you could even skip the ice cream. Just let it cool, grab a spoon, and dive in.

And unlike fudge candy, where achieving the proper texture relies on complex crystallization processes, this homemade hot fudge is much more forgiving. All of the ingredients are simply stirred together and boiled to reach the right consistency. As the mixture cooks, water evaporates and sugar hardens, thickening the fudge. For me, boiling for 3 minutes is ideal. And I always let the fudge cool just a bit before serving. You really don't want to waste a good fudge on a burnt tongue.

About the Author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Easy Artisan Bread. You can also watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. She presently lives in Singapore as a freelance writer for Time Out Singapore. Check out her blog: Follow Yvonne on Twitter.