Gretchen's table: Homemade coffee ice cream and hot fudge sundaes

Ice cream is the best of desserts any time of year, but it really hits the spot on a warm and balmy summer evening.

Cool and creamy, it's both decadent and nostalgic, whether it's piled high on an ice cream cone or -- my favorite way -- scooped into a crispy waffle bowl and drenched with spoonful after spoonful of homemade hot fudge.

When I was a kid, my siblings and I spent many nights churning ice cream in a hand-cranked ice cream maker. (Whew -- but, eventually, so worth it!) Today's plug-in versions are much easier on the hands and shoulders, with an electric motor doing all the grunt work by rotating the metal canister that holds the ice cream base in a slurry of ice and salt. If you keep the canister at the ready in the freezer, and have heavy cream and eggs in the refrigerator, you can have fresh ice cream in less than an hour in any flavor your heart desires. It's that easy.

This sundae recipe features what I swear is one of the best chocolate fudge sauces I've ever tasted -- that of Pittsburgh food blogger Michelle Lettrich, who runs the popular site Brown Eyed Baker. It's so delicious, you might want to hide any leftovers under your bed, like my little sister, Posie, used to do with the Cool Whip. (Just kidding -- you should hide it in the back of the fridge.)

I made the sundaes with coffee ice cream because that's what I love best, but you could easily substitute vanilla, cinnamon, strawberry or whatever flavor of ice cream rocks your world.

The sauce can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. To reheat, microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute until it's pourable but still thick.




2 cups half and half

1 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

4 egg yolks

1 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 -2 tablespoons instant coffee or espresso powder


2/3 cup heavy or whipping cream

1/2 cup light corn syrup or honey

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon fine or table salt

1 cup semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips, divided

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Whipped cream, for garnish

Maraschino cherries and crushed nuts, for garnish

Make ice cream: Warm half and half, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking to dissolve sugar.

Beat egg yolks in a small mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup of the warm mixture to the egg yolks and whisk to combine. Then add that mixture to the half and half on the stovetop. Whisk in coffee granules until dissolved.

Cook over medium-low heat stirring constantly until the mixture thickens slightly -- just barely sticking to the back of a spatula or until it reaches 170 degrees.

Place the heavy cream into a bowl with a fine mesh strainer on top of the bowl. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Discard what is left on the strainer. Add vanilla extract, and stir to combine.

Transfer to an airtight container and cool completely in the fridge (preferably overnight).

Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and churn until frozen (about 30-40 minutes). Transfer to an airtight container and freeze completely, about 4 hours.

When ready to make sundaes, prepare hot fudge: In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, cocoa powder, salt and half of the chocolate chips to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low (enough to maintain a low simmer), and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining chocolate chips, butter and vanilla extract, stirring until smooth. Let cool for 20 to 30 minutes before using (it will thicken as it cools). Store in a jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To reheat, microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute until it's pourable but still thick.

Assemble sundaes: Place 3 scoops of ice cream in a sundae cup or bowl. Spoon hot fudge on top, and garnish with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. Crushed nuts are optional. Serve immediately.

Makes enough ice cream for at least 8 sundaes.

-- Adapted from

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