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Hot Fudge Sauce … I’m in Hot Fudge Heaven!

Hot Fudge Sauce


This past week I made up some of the most sinfully magnificient Hot Fudge Sauce.  You’d be surprised just how many things you have in your kitchen right now that can be doused in hot fudge!   In the 25 minutes it took to whip up this sauce I had fashioned quite an extensive list.   Fresh fruit, a stray brownie, that last piece of pound cake from Christmas, pretzels and of course ice cream, the most obvious choice.   Be careful or you could find yourself lost in “Hot Fudge Land”. 

 To me, hot fudge sauce on ice cream seems so … from an era gone by.  It appears that the simple hot fudge sundaes of yesterday have been replaced with more modern creations, using the same ingredients but sporting new trendy names.  Maybe we have just gone overboard with the likes of “Madagascar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream served in a velvety pool of bittersweet chocolate, topped with 24-karat edible gold leaf” … when actually what we have is just an unnecessarily expensive version of a classic hot fudge sundae.  

This sauce is so easy to make and is so versatile.  You can probably make it with ingredients you already have in your pantry.  Don’t settle for the store bought stuff … make your own.

Makes 3 ¼ cups   (I filled 2 pint jars)

Melt 8 ounces of unsweetened chocolate baking squares and ½ cup of unsalted butter in a large, heavy saucepan.  (I “borrowed” my Mother’s copper bottom sauce pan.)  Melt over low heat stirring constantly.  (Use a low setting and be patient.)

 When completely melted add in 2 cups of sugar, stirring constantly over low heat.  (I stirred approximately 4-5 minutes until it was well blended.  The mixture will be thick and “sandy” looking.)

 Add 1 cup of milk (I like to use room temperature milk.) and continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thoroughly heated and the sugar is dissolved. (Once the sugar dissolved, I changed from stirring with  a wooden spoon to a whisk.  At this point, I raised the temperature just a bit above low and continued to whisk the sauce.  I found that you must let the sauce heat through all the way.  The longer you whisk and cook it, the fudgier the finished product will be when cooled.  I probably whisked about 10 minutes to get the consistency I liked.)  DO NOT BOIL THE SAUCE.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of good vanilla extract (I used about 1 and ½ teaspoons) and 1/8 teaspoon of salt.  Cover and chill sauce.  It will hold in the fridge up to 2 weeks.  (One recipe filled 2 pint canning jars.) 

Note: To reheat, spoon some of the sauce into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 15 seconds, or in 15 second intervals until warm.

Espresso-Hot Fudge Sauce:  Add 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder with the sugar.

Whiskey-Hot Fudge Sauce:  Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of Southern Comfort with the vanilla and salt.

Brown-Sugar-Cinnamon Hot Fudge Sauce:  Substitute 1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar for 1 cup of granulated sugar.  Stir in ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon with vanilla and salt.

Roast Prime Rib of Beef

Roast Prime Rib of Beef


Some years back my Father “out-lawed” turkey on the Christmas day dinner table.  He tolerated it at Thanksgiving, but that was about all he could take.  So, prime rib became our special treat at Christmas, compliments of Dad.  Christmas morning you would find him preparing to load the prime rib into his “set it and forget it” machine!  It was perfect every time.  Sadly, we lost my Father just before the holidays last year and I have eagerly taken on the job of roasting the prime rib. 

When purchasing your prime rib, have a conversation with your butcher!  Let them know your plans and the number of people you will be serving.  Our Gardner Price Chopper has one of the most friendly and knowledgeable meat departments I have ever dealt with.  I consider them “my butcher” and quite regularly take advantage of their expertise.  I requested a 10 pound, bone-in prime rib (bones are the key to great flavor).  “My butcher” indicated that they could cut the meat from the bone and tie it back onto the bone for roasting.  Wow … one less step for me and no extra charge.  

My butcher had this prime rib trimmed and tied ... saved me some time!

To satisfy government home economists, the Beef council tells us that rare beef means an internal temperature of 140 degrees F.  Well, that is if you like well done and very dry meat.  If you like moist, rosy meat (yes I do), rare begins at 120 degrees F and starts to become medium rare at 125 to 130 degrees F.  

This chart is only a guide  … you need to use an accurate meat thermometer and start taking the temperatures one half hour before the end of the estimated roasting time. 

  Approximate Weight Oven Temperature Total Estimated Time Only Meat Thermometer Reading (Rare)
2 ribs 4  to 5 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 60 to 70 minutes 120 degrees F 
3 ribs 7 to 8.5 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours 120 degrees F 
4 ribs 9 to 10.5 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours 120 degrees F 
5 ribs 11 to 13.5 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 2 1/4 to 2 3/4 hours 120 degrees F 
6 ribs 14 to 16 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 3 to 3 1/4 hours 120 degrees F 
7 ribs 16 to 18.5 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 3 1/4 to 4 hours 120 degrees F


Beef Roast Cooking Temperatures
Rare 120 to 125 degrees F center is bright red, pinkish toward the exterior portion
Medium Rare 130 to 135 degrees F center is very pink, slightly brown toward the exterior portion
Medium 140 to 145 degrees F center is light pink, outer portion is brown
Medium Well 150 to 155 degrees F not pink
Well Done 160 degrees F and above steak is uniformly brown throughout

I got a lot of great information and the charts from a wonderful site ….
What’s Cooking  America

Room Temperature:  To cook evenly, the roast must not be cold – let it stand at room temperature, loosely covered, for about 2 hours.  If you do not let the roast come to room temperature it will not cook evenly and you’ll end up with well-done slices on the ends and raw meat in the center.  

Seasoning:  In a zip lock bag mix together the following:  5 cloves of garlic chopped, ½ cup of prepared horseradish, ½ cup of course salt, ¼ cup of ground black pepper and ½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Massage this mixture generously over the entire roast.  (I do this when I first take it out of the fridge to come to room temperature.)

Ready to roast!

Roasting: Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Place the roast, ribs down, in a roasting pan. The rib bones are a natural rack; you won’t need a metal one.

Sear the rib roast for 15 minutes at the higher oven temperature (450 degrees F.), then turn the oven to the lower temperature (325 degrees F.) for the rest of the cooking time.

About 1/2 hour before the estimated end of the roasting time, begin checking the internal temperature (use a good instant-read digital meat thermometer). Internal temperature, not time, is the best test for doneness.  Insert your meat thermometer so the tip is in thickest part of beef, not resting in fat or touching bone. Remember, the rib roast will continue to cook as it sets.  I wanted medium prime rib so I took the roast out of the oven when the temperature reached 135 degrees.  I let it set 30 minutes (while my popovers were baking) and the temperature rose to 142 degrees.  So, pay attention to how long you let the cooked prime rib roast sit in relation to your desired level of doneness.

Cooked perfectly to medium -- center light pink and outer portion is brown.

Bruleed Pumpkin Pie … a twist on a classic.

Bruleed Pumpkin Pie

Let me say right off the bat:  I am not fond of pumpkin pie.  If pumpkin pie was the only available option for dessert, I’d be pounds thinner … ‘cause I would be doing without.  For me, it has too much of a one-dimensional texture.  But because I love the drama and festiveness of this most celebrated seasonal recipe, I find myself baking a pumpkin pie during the holiday season. (My pumpkin pie is just one of the 50 million that are baked and consumed annually, according to Libby’s.)

Every once in a while, I stumble upon an article or book that offers a fresh spin on a traditional recipe.  It often renews my interest in certain ingredients and introduces me to new ones.  My most recent recipe find is so amazing that I made a last minute change to this column so I could share it with you … Bruleed Pumpkin Pie!   You begin with a very rich, heavenly spiced, baked pumpkin custard.  Just prior to serving, it is sprinkled with a layer of sugar which is caramelized with the aid of a propane torch or a broiler.  This layer solidifies, creating a delightful textural contrast between the soft pie custard and the brittle sugar topping.  The pie makes a wonderful crackling sound when you cut it!   

What I love about this version of pumpkin pie is that it must be made ahead – as you have to freeze the crust for a few hours and then chill the pie overnight. 

Oh, I forgot to mention that I am now the proud owner of a propane torch … imagine the surprised looks on the faces of my guests when I whipped it out just prior to serving the pie.  It made for wonderful “dessert conversation”.

Bruleed Pumpkin Pie

adapted from a recipe from the Los Angeles Times

Single pie crust  —  can be homemade or store bought  (shame on me, I used store bought)
1      (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
½    cup heavy cream
½    cup milk
3      eggs plus one egg yolk
2      tablespoons Brandy
1/3  cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1  1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom  (please do not leave out this spice – it adds great flavor)
1/4 to 1/2 cup superfine sugar for bruleeing  (it comes in a “milk carton” type container and it called bakers sugar)

Press your pie crust into a standard pie pan (not deep dish).  Freeze for several hours. 

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F. 

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, cream, milk, eggs, egg yolk, Brandy, light brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon, allspice and cardamom until well blended.   (I bought one of those “airline” size bottles of Brandy at the liquor store for 99 cents)

Pour this mixture into the frozen pie shell.  Bake for 15 minutes, turning once for even browning.  (You may want to cover your crust edges with foil to keep them from browning too fast.)   After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees F  (remove foil from the crust edges) and bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes.   Remove and let cool completely to room temperature.    Cover and chill overnight.

Just before serving, carefully fold strips of aluminum foil over the edges of the pie.  Do not cover any of the custard with the foil.   Scatter the superfine sugar (baking sugar)  evenly over the top of the pie and brulee under a hot broiler until the sugar caramelizes.   (Or use a propane torch if you have one.)   Serve immediately, with a dollop of whipped cream.

Pie, torch and sugar ... all set to brulee!

Torch on ... melting the sugar.

Making some progress ... sugar melting in spots.

Almost there ...

Remove the foil and its ready to serve.

Bruleed Pumpkin Pie