This isn’t exactly a recipe per se, but it’s a dessert our family often eats on special occasions, and so I felt like we really ought to share it on the blog.
When I first set out to write this post over the summer, I decided I’d do some googling to see if I could find out the history or origin of the “St. Croix Sundae.”
Google turned up nothing.
Not a thing.
I got a lot of hits telling me where to find the best ice cream on the island of St. Croix, something about a malt shop along the St. Croix River in Minnesota, and a Dairy Queen menu from St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin…but nothing about the favorite ice cream dessert of my youth, and adult, life.
So I decided to email my dad to ask him where he heard of it.
He responded promptly. As newly married undergraduates keeping a vegetarian diet, he and my mom discovered this recipe in a cookbook that was called something like “Vegetarian Dishes from Around the World.” Don’t bother—I googled that too and came up with nothing.
Apparently, the internet doesn’t know about this dessert.
The internet needs to know about this dessert.
So here you go:
the st. croix sundae
coffee ice cream
hot fudge sauce*
Scoop out a ball of coffee ice cream. Roll it in the toasted coconut. Top with warm hot fudge.
You can home-make all the ingredients, you can buy them all from a grocery store, whatever you choose, I can guarantee, you will never regret it.
*My dad was keen to note that this must be hot fudge sauce, not a chocolate syrup. “The stickiness, texture and more nutty flavor of hot fudge is essential.”
a further note on homemade hot fudge sauce
I don’t typically follow an exact recipe when I make hot fudge sauce…I basically work with what I have at the moment in my kitchen. It always tastes good. That’s why I’m hesitant to share any specific recipe as “the best” or “the most reliable” or “the one I always use.”
Most of the recipes out there involve three elements: fat/liquid, sweetener, and chocolate. The ratios of these ingredients vary widely, with some recipes calling for more fat/liquid, while others call for more chocolate or sweetener. A fairly typical recipe calls for a mix of heavy cream and butter (liquid/fat), sugar and corn syrup (sweetener) and cocoa and chocolate (chocolate)—but you’ll find plenty of variations there as well.
Armed with that knowledge, I usually take a look at my pantry and see what I have of the ingredients most often used in the three categories:
Fat/Liquid: milk, butter, heavy cream, half and half, evaporated milk — or some combination of these
Sweetener: brown sugar, white sugar, corn syrup, honey, powdered sugar — or some combination of these
Chocolate: bittersweet chocolate, semisweet chocolate, chocolate chips, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa powder — or some combination of these.
In addition to these three elements, often recipes call for small amounts (1/2-1 teaspoon) of ingredients that basically serve to enhance the flavor: vanilla extract, salt, and espresso powder.
The method is nearly universally the same: combine all ingredients (including cocoa—but leave out any baking chocolate or chocolate chips until the end) in a saucepan, bring to a simmer for several minutes, then remove from heat, whisk in any chocolate if using, and then serve or store in a jar for later.
As far as amounts to use? Ratios of these ingredients are all over the map! I often start somewhere around a 1:1:1 ratio and then taste and adjust.
To put this theory to the test, I spent an afternoon in the kitchen trying to be all scientific. I made over seven batches of hot fudge sauce, testing this 3-element, 1:1:1 ratio theory. For the most part, it worked. But more importantly, there wasn’t anything that couldn’t be easily “fixed.”
When my mixture of equal parts butter, cocoa, and white sugar seemed a little thin and curdled, I whisked in a splash of heavy cream and it transformed into a smooth, thick, glossy fudge sauce.
When a mixture of 2 parts dark chocolate, to 1 part heavy cream and 1 part corn syrup came out too much like a ganache, whisking in a pat of butter gave it more depth and transformed it into a smooth, thick, glossy fudge sauce.
I even decided to try out a “healthy” version, starting with equal parts coconut oil and honey and then whisking in dark chocolate. The mixture was a tad runny, but it was nothing a splash of milk (coconut milk or almond milk will work too) couldn’t fix to transform it into a smooth, thick, glossy fudge sauce.
Something I did notice from all of this experimentation is that the best results seem to come from using a combination of elements from each of the three categories.
So that might look like 1/4 cup heavy cream + 1/4 cup butter; 1/4 cup brown sugar + 1/4 cup corn syrup; and 1/4 cup chocolate chips + 1/4 cup cocoa powder.
But you might go with 1/2 cup half & half + 1/4 cup butter; 3/4 cup white sugar; and 1/2 cup cocoa + a couple ounces of unsweetened chocolate (like this King Arthur Flour recipe).
The Pioneer Woman goes with 1 cup heavy cream + 1/2 cup butter; 1 cup white sugar; and 1 cup cocoa powder.
Browneyed Baker suggests 12 oz evaporated milk + 1/2 cup butter; 2 cups powdered sugar; and 3/4 cup chocolate chips, while Smitten Kitchen recommends 2/3 cup heavy cream + 1/8 cup butter; 1/2 cup corn syrup/honey + 1/4 cup brown sugar; and 1 cup chocolate + 1/4 cup cocoa powder.
As you can probably guess, all of these recipes turn out a delightful thick hot fudge sauce.
There are no hard and fast rules.
Perhaps you found the above a bit overwhelming, in which case, go ahead and stick to a recipe. But perhaps you are like me, and find it liberating to know you can walk into your kitchen on any given night and come up with a pretty darn good hot fudge sauce to satiate your ice cream sundae whims from whatever happens to be in your pantry.