What exactly is hot fudge pie? Before I baked this dish, I was not sure about this week’s recipe from my grandmother Jessie’s recently discovered files.
One thing for sure was that my grandmother liked hot fudge, chocolate, desserts, and sweets, in general. I recall that she enjoyed a good hot fudge sundae, frequently with coffee ice cream, at the old-fashioned ice cream parlours, which were once common across Chicago. She liked the Ting-a-Ling, very close to her last residence, a near-north-side condo. I imagine Jessie visited many of the south side institutions, e.g., Cunis’s, Cunag’s, Gertie’s, or the original Dove Candies – which has become a superstar of the American-commercial-high-end-ice-cream-bar-and-chocolate scene. When I visit Chicago, I do try to make it to Margie’s Candies, which still serves a traditional hot fudge sundae, featuring their home-made ice cream, in huge white plastic scallop-shell dishes.
The hot fudge sauce at these ice cream parlours came in a small stainless steel pitcher (the size of a small creamer), always served very hot and separate from the sundae, with its whipped cream, chopped pecans or other nuts, and, of course, a cherry on top. It was a revelation to see how a sundae-eater consumed the hot fudge sauce:
- all in one pour on top of the sundae,
- poured judiciously and intermittently as he or she ate the ice cream and whipped cream,
- poured onto the spoon to coat ice cream, one bite at a time, or,
- in the most audacious move of them all, drunk from the pitcher itself.
These techniques indicated one’s personality, we speculated.
Oh, right, this post is not about hot fudge sundaes. (I do promise to write-up a classic recipe from one of my cookbooks, Lost Desserts, by Gail Monaghan, which features a very special recipe for hot fudge sauce from a Los Angeles eatery, with the perfect viscosity and a truly profound chocolate-fudge flavour). The hot fudge pie in question is a bit perplexing, as it is neither a pie nor a cake nor a brownie; it is in between a chocolate molten lava cake (the dessert of the 1990s), a self-saucing chocolate cake (very big in the 1970s), and a very moist brownie (timeless!).
For the hot fudge pie recipe…
When I prepared the hot fudge pie earlier this week, it was as a mid-afternoon treat. However, I did not have any ice cream on hand, nor did I think we needed to serve it with a scoop to finish off this dessert. The cake-pie-brownie was warm, gooey, and adequately chocolate but not overwhelmingly so. In retrospect, I do think that ice cream would complement perfectly the warm cake, melting enough to emphasize its actual fudgey nature – kind of an upside-down hot fudge sundae. Thus, we must adhere to Jessie’s admonition, “Serve with ice cream.” Do not deviate. I should have known better. My grandmother did not mince words.
I refrigerated the left-overs, which become quite chewy – again, like a very wet brownie; this makes for a toothsome and satisfying snack, if the whole cake has not been devoured while warm. Funny, how baking this dish and thinking about hot fudge took me back to the ice cream parlours of the past. To paraphrase the great French poet, François Villon, “où sont les glaces d’antan?” – where are the ice creams of yesteryear? They are alive and well, at least in the windmills of my mind.
I do like the fact that Jessie’s instructions indicate that the dessert will be ready, if you put it in the oven, when you sit down for dinner. The 25 minutes it takes to bake would be a good interval for dining, so this is a good dish to prepare well in advance for a dinner party, which could be refrigerated until dinner time, put in the oven, and, et voilà, hot fudge pie for your guests!
Jessie certainly enjoyed making simple dishes, such as this hot fudge pie, and it is a fine homespun dessert to finish off a comfort food meal. Just be sure to include the ice cream for the full topsy-turvy hot fudge sundae experience.
Hot Fudge Pie, from Jessie’s recipe file
Serves four to six (or eight, if the ice cream scoops are big…)
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, with a bit extra for greasing pie plate
- 1 ½ squares unsweetened baking chocolate (1.5 ounces)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup AP flour (that is “all-purpose” for those of you not yet hip to food jive…)
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter an eight-inch diameter pie plate or cake pan – use a glass or ceramic, if possible – or use cooking spray
- Melt butter and chocolate (I use a microwave – pretty much just for this task – at 50% power at 30 second intervals, just until the chocolate is almost entirely melted, and then stir). Cool.
- Mix sugar into beaten eggs, combine until sugar is fully incorporated.
- Mix in butter-chocolate mixture until completely blended.
- Add vanilla and milk. Stir well.
- Fold in flour, mixing just until no white streaks remain – do not overbeat.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
Serve with ice cream for the full upside-down hot fudge pie treatment.