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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Old-Time Hot Fudge Sauce

This is the real deal, a satiny and thick hot fudge sauce made with real ingredients just like mom and pop ice cream parlors used to make.

When I was a little girl in the 60s and early 70s, we had an ice cream parlor that had been run by a sweet couple for many years. They made all of their own toppings. The whipping cream was real whipped cream, made fresh each day. The butterscotch topping was made with heavy cream, and the hot fudge was made with real butter. There were black and white photos of teens enjoying double dates in the 1950s on the walls of the seating area. I was just a little girl, but this formed my idea of what it would be like when I was a teenager. Little did I know that the world would change dramatically by the time my teen dating years rolled around.

Thick, rich hot fudge sauce was the topping I chose when my parents treated me to a birthday sundae. When my sundae was placed before me, I scooped up that first delicious bite. The sauce was warm and melted the surface of the vanilla ice cream beneath. I savored every spoonful of that delicious goodness. In the bottom of the small dish, I swirled together the very last of the melted vanilla with remnants of the fudge sauce on the edge of the glass, making a tiny spoonful of creamy chocolate milk for my last taste.

This recipe makes a hot fudge sauce that takes me back to that childhood memory. It's made with real ingredients -- butter, cocoa powder, sugar, corn syrup, salt, vanilla extract. And it's economical. A 10 oz jar of my homemade fudge sauce cost me 60 cents (or 6 cents per ounce). Compare that to Smucker's Hot Fudge Topping at $1.98 for 11.75 ounces (0r 17 cents per ounce). The homemade is almost 1/3 the cost of the commercial product.

This must take a lot of time and work, right? Nope. It takes me about 10 minutes to make a batch and requires no special tools, just a spoon and saucepan.

Old-Time Hot Fudge Ice Cream Topping (yields 10 ounces, or about 6-8 servings)

3 tablespoons butter, cut into 6 or so pieces
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/3 cup hot water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/16 to scant 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan over Low heat, place the butter dices and cocoa powder. Stir constantly until the butter has melted. Pour in about half of the hot water and stir vigorously. Add remaining water and stir again until well-combined. The mixture will resemble a thick pudding. 

Keeping the pan over Low heat, stir in the sugar and corn syrup. Continue stirring until the sugar has mostly dissolved, about 1 minute. Add the salt. If you used unsalted butter, use the greater amount of salt (scant 1/8 teaspoon). If you used salted butter, just a dash of salt will be enough, no more than 1/16 teaspoon.

Bring to a boil over Medium heat. Once boiling, reduce to Low and allow to boil gently without stirring for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Cool to just warm for immediate use or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 weeks. 

This sauce thickens as it cools. When using at a later date, reheat briefly in the microwave until pouring consistency.

This Father's Day, we're planning a barbecue followed up with a sundae bar. I bought a bucket of vanilla ice cream at WinCo last week and will add homemade caramel sauce, homemade hot fudge topping, homemade strawberry topping, chopped nuts, whipped cream, and sprinkles. I'm making the sauces/toppings during the week this week, so I can enjoy the weekend with everyone else.

In addition to ice cream sundaes, I also like warmed up fudge sauce on sliced fresh bananas. The taste is decadent without affecting my waistline.


  1. We frequently made our own fudge sauce for ice cream when I was growing up and often wondered what happened to the recipe. Or maybe it was a word of mouth thing. I'll have to ask my sisters what they remember. In the meantime, I might try this recipe. I don't regularly have corn syrup around, so I will have to figure out a substitution.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      I've wondered myself what could be substituted for the corn syrup. I've thought perhaps honey or maple syrup could sub. Let me know if you try something.

    2. I read that you can make a 1:1 sugar syrup that will work if you don't need to cook anything more than a soft ball stage. Honey and maple syrup should also work, but will affect the taste.

    3. Hi Live and Learn,
      Let me know if the 1:1 syrup works well for you if you try it. Good points on honey and maple syrup. Although, mild honey might be very close to corn syrup, as corn syrup does have a taste other than "sweet". If you can translate Vero's comment below (French to English), she tried this using honey and thought it was good.
      Thanks for your sugar syrup suggestion. That could save folks on buying corn syrup.

  2. Sounds so good! Thanks for sharing the recipe--will give it a try! I've attempted hot fudge before but it never had the right texture, so I'm excited to try this.

    1. You're welcome, Cat. I hope you like this as much as we do.

  3. I also have fond memories of hot fudge sundaes. My first job when I turned 16 was working at Arctic Circle. I remember the hot fudge machine and scooping it out to put on the ice cream. So yummy! I have a lot of memories working there. We cut up the chickens, made the fry sauce, the white hamburger sauce, and dipped the fish. Things have certainly changed, haven't they?

    1. Hi Ruthie,
      Wow! How much things have changed!I guess it's easier for fast food restaurants to pay more for pre-made food items and not worry so much about training than it is to train new hires to assemble foods according to the owners' recipes.
      I bet there were some fun times working at Artic Circle.

  4. You won't notice if I crash your ice cream party, right??? Sounds so delicious!

    1. Hi Kris,
      No problem -- you bring the maraschino cherries!

  5. Lili, thank you for this recipe. Like other toppings I've made previously, they just didn't have the right texture or consistency. Your description of the old fashioned hot fudge was perfect. That's exactly the kind I remember and want to reproduce. Can't wait to try this one and the caramel you sauce you also provided. Yum.

    Lynn from NC Outer Banks

    1. You're welcome, Lynn! I hope you enjoy this!

  6. J'ai suivi votre recette, en utilisant du miel et non du sirop de maïs, que je n'avais pas. J'ai pu ainsi préparer un dessert en utilisant des bananes mûres, qui ne sont normalement pas appréciées par les membres de ma famille. C'était très bon en plus d'être économique.

    Vous êtes une femme attentionnée et très généreuse. Je vous remercie pour tous vos messages et les précieux échanges qu'ils permettent d'établir.

    1. Thank you for your input, Véro. I'm glad to hear that this worked with honey and that your family enjoyed the sauce over bananas.
      Also, thank you for your kind words. Have a great weekend, Véro!


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