I come from a long line of sweet-toothed women. My twin great aunts walked up and down the length of Manhattan in matching coats and high heels, window-shopping, visiting the Metropolitan Museum, or just plain shopping. Where did they get their energy and stamina? Every journey ended at Schrafft’s on Fifth Avenue for a hot fudge sundae.
Speaking of sundaes, Sunday lunch at my grandmother’s, a regular tradition until I was about eight when we moved too far away to make the drive, culminated in more of the same. As soon as the clearing up started, Uncle Eddie was dispatched to Grunings Ice Cream Parlor for coffee ice cream and hot fudge sauce. In addition to aunts, uncles and cousins, my grandmother’s younger sisters were faithfully at the table. I couldn’t tell them apart, and anyway, we always referred to them as Twinnies. They had names—Bea and Vi—short for Beatrice and Viola; but to us, and I think even at times to themselves, they were a single entity: The Twins. Their love of sweets, along with their high heels and shiny red nail polish were woven into the fabric of family legend. Twinnies laughed and winked at me conspiratorially as I dug into the sundae that punctuated every Sunday meal. They greeted the pleasure of hot fudge that hardened over cold ice cream and then stuck to your teeth with fresh enthusiasm every single week.
Time, as is its wont, eventually extinguished the Sunday lunches. Even Grunings, a family-owned northern New Jersey ice cream haunt that held strong for some eighty odd years, bit the dust some time in the late 1980s. Luckily, I found at least four dog-eared cards in my mother’s old recipe box (they really, really, really liked it). All were attributed to various family members with more or less the same recipe (Grunings) in different quantities. I picked one and revised it slightly—oh how the younger generations just can’t leave well enough alone. But I didn’t mess with it too much. I swapped out the evaporated milk for heavy cream and bumped up the chocolate by an ounce. I don’t think you’ll mind. So, if you have about ten minutes to spare and want to make something easy for a modern Sunday lunch cooked outside on the grill, this hot fudge is the ticket to assuage a raging sweet tooth when it’s just too damn hot to turn on the oven.
Grandmother’s (Grunings) hot fudge sauce
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups (8 ounces) light brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 pinch salt
3 squares (3 ounces) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Stir cream, brown sugar, butter and salt over medium heat in a small saucepan until the cream comes to a boil and the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat to low and stir in the chocolate. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce is “glossy.” You’ll know exactly what that means when you get there. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla. Serve hot. The sauce can be refrigerated and reheated in the microwave.