Summer in Steamboat means company. Lots and lots of company. July is the preferred month, it seems, which is funny because we are first and foremost a SKI RESORT TOWN. (Our town’s slogan is “Ski Town USA®,” and our champagne powder is legendary, for goodness’ sake, and yet both of our families are like, “yeah, I think July is better.”)
Truth be told, summers in Steamboat are every bit as magical as winters, if not more so. Every year both my and Jeremy’s families flock to visit, watch fireworks, hike on the trails that have spruces, aspens, wildflowers, berry bushes, and rivers running through them, ride the Alpine slide, head to happy hour up the gondola to watch the sunset, soak in the hot springs, tube the Yampa River, mountain bike, fly fish, camp at the lakes, eat at our boutique restaurants, etc, etc, etc.
This year, we’ve already had the pleasure of visiting with two of my aunts, who came to us by way of California, and this week we welcomed a slice of both Jeremy’s and my sister-in-law’s family (in case you are wondering: Charis is Jeremy’s sister, but it’s Charis’ husband’s – Andrew – family that is visiting, plus one of Jeremy’s cousins and his family. The timing happens to overlap.) The kids are like, “wait, who is visiting?” and we just say “Cousins. Kind of. Not really. But some are. Just…cousins. Okay?”
Family is family, right?
The other night we had a big BBQ at our house. I volunteered for dessert duty. The menu was grilled chicken, hot dogs, assorted salads and watermelon, like you’d find at most barbecues in July. I procrastinated and didn’t think about what I’d make until day of, which landed me on Pinterest at 7:30 in the morning. I searched for “summer desserts” and “bbq desserts” and “dessert for a crowd” (we had 26 people to feed), but nothing was making my skirt fly up. I considered just buying some cookies and calling it a day because I was short on time and had other plans that day as well. But the thought of that made me sad. I cook. I entertain. That’s what I do. I could not, would not, bring myself to serve store bought cookies at a party at my house. So I did what I do every time Pinterest fails me. I forgot about what everyone else might want and I closed my eyes and asked myself “what do I want for dessert?” And instantly the answer came back: “You want an ice cream sundae with thick fudge sauce, whipped cream, and nuts” – because, obviously.
Then I asked the second question: “How can I make this fast for a crowd but still special?” And because ice cream sundaes are not rocket science, the answer to this one was easy. I would buy the ice cream and scoop when it was time. Right before everyone arrived, I would toast the nuts in a skillet and set them aside until needed. Then, I would whip the cream from scratch, which everyone flips for, and is something I don’t understand since making homemade whipped cream is the easiest thing in the entire world. And that’s it for prep. After dinner, I would excuse myself to the kitchen for exactly ten minutes and melt the fudge sauce together in a pot, set the ice cream out with scoops, take the whipped cream out from the fridge, put the nuts in a pretty bowl, and voilá! The make-your-own-ice-cream-sundae bar is ready.
Proper hot fudge sauce should be thick and glossy and should coat ice cream completely before slowly nestling down in the bottom of your bowl. It should have a rich chocolatey flavor and sumptuous feel in your mouth, and when it cools, it should become slightly sticky (unlike homemade chocolate syrup, which pours onto ice cream in ribbons and is stickier). Either are crowd-pleasers, but hot fudge is the traditional ice cream sundae accompaniment and this is the best recipe for it I have come across.
Proper Hot Fudge Sauce
Makes about 2 cups
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup, or honey
- 1/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
- 1/4 cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped, or chips
- 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine butter, cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, cocoa, and salt over a low flame until everything melts and start to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate and vanilla extract.
Spoon over ice cream.
Fudge sauce keeps stored in the refrigerator for up to a month, sealed in jars or containers.