Every Wednesday night, Bon Appétit food director Carla Lalli Music takes over our newsletter with a sleeper-hit recipe from the Test Kitchen vault. It gets better: If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get this letter before everyone else.
Guess what I don’t have in my Brooklyn kitchen? Air conditioning. Guess what I’m not doing this weekend? Baking. Guess what’s better than sweating over an all-butter dough in this humidity? Ice cream, that’s what.
You heard me. As long as your freezer can hold its own when indoor temperatures hit the mid-80s, ice cream is the ticket. That said (you knew that was coming, right?), we wouldn’t be in this conversation if we didn’t all like making exceptional things to eat. The desire to execute a recipe is irresistible, but making ice cream takes too long! Buy it, and embellish it! Now that ice cream flavors come with the toppings pre-mixed in, the only topping worth tackling is hot fudge.
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Lucky for us, Claire Saffitz figured out how to make hot fudge at home, and the results will eclipse anything you can scrape out of a jar. Hot fudge is more involved than chocolate sauce but less tricky than the walnut-topped confection your great-grandmother made. The key moment comes when you cook cream with brown sugar and agave until it hits 220° on a thermometer, which will drive off the right amount of liquid and change the sugar’s structure so that the mixture will be stretchy and chewy at room temperature. Once that magic moment has elapsed, you add unsweetened chopped chocolate and continue cooking until the mixture is thickened—it only takes a minute but you have to stir diligently the entire time to prevent the chocolate from burning.
Off heat, Claire stirs in cocoa, vanilla, and salt—those ingredients are less sciency and more about seasoning the sauce so that it tastes robustly chocolatey and rich. Inevitably, as soon as you add the cocoa, the mixture will separate and look like a sludgy mud pile, but you didn’t ruin it by mistake! Once you whisk in a little water, it will return to a shiny, supple state. (All of this is in the recipe, by the way.)
I did an informal poll of hot fudge enthusiasts earlier today, and I knew I had the right focus group when one of them said that she “got a warm feeling just from hearing the words hot fudge.”