Saturday, August 14, 2010

Delectable Hot Fudge Sauce (Without Corn Syrup): Make Your Own Sundaes

Our daughter, Johanna, turned ten this summer. She was clear on two things about her momentous birthday celebration: 1) it would be a slumber party with her closest friends, and 2) make your own ice cream sundaes would be the centerpiece. She didn't think we needed to plan any special games, activities or outings. However, being the true Berkeley girl that she is, the food was the most important part of the celebration.

By now, whether you know me virtually through my blog, or in the realm of reality, you will assume that, at the least, I would make the ice cream and the hot fudge sauce for this extravaganza. You will further assume that both of them would be organic. And, of course, you would be correct on both counts. I also made some delectable almost flour-less brownies from a Katharine Hepburn recipe, but really, they were unnecessary. The ice cream and the fudge sauce were the most important components.

I found a delicious-sounding recipe for the sauce in the Gourmet Cookbook. However, once again, it was marred by the inclusion of corn syrup in the recipe. Sigh. If you have read my other posts about corn, you will know that 81-86% of all the corn in America is grown from genetically modified seed. In addition, if you have read much of the food scoop that is out there from Michael Pollan, you will know that corn syrup is not considered a healthful food. Plus, there's the extraction process. Acids and enzymes to separate the starch from the sugars; doesn't that sound appetizing? And, no, I have never, never seen organic or non-GMO corn syrup on the market anywhere. However, I had learned from chef and food researcher Alton Brown that the fructose in corn syrup is useful in breaking the crystallization chain of cane sugar when making caramel and other candies; cane sugar just naturally wants to go back to being a crystal, and the fructose bonds with it and blocks the chain. Perhaps that is why the corn syrup was included in the fudge sauce recipe (although no explanation for its inclusion was offered.) What to do, what to do... I'd been wondering for some time if Agave nectar would be a good substitute, but hadn't heard any reliable reports on the matter. If it were a good substitute - well, hello pecan pie, homemade marshmallows, and homemade caramels! It IS fructose, after all.... I decided to risk messing up the batch of hot fudge sauce, and just go for it! I substituted the agave nectar for the corn syrup in the fudge sauce recipe, and....... Drum roll, please! The results? Yum.

Here's the recipe, with my mods:

Hot Fudge Sauce

adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

1/4 cup unsweetened organic cocoa powder (I quite like Trader Joe's brand)
1/3 cup packed organic dark brown sugar
1/2 cup organic agave nectar
2/3 cup organic heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
6 ounces good quality organic bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (Yep, T.J.'s again)
2 TB unsalted organic butter, cut into 1/2 TB
1 tsp organic vanilla

Stir together the cocoa powder, brown sugar, agave nectar, cream, salt, and half of the the chocolate in a 1 1/2 - 2 quart heavy saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until chocolate is melted. Cook mixture at a a low boil, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Remove pan from heat, add remaining chocolate, butter and vanilla and stir until smooth. Cool slightly before serving.

Note from Christine: I have now made two batches of this sauce. I just performed, ahem, quality control checks. With refrigeration, this lasts several months.