“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first,” said American writer Ernestine Ulmer. I suppose writing about dessert before discussing the dinner is comparable.
As part of our 2011 New Year’s Resolution, Kris and I have agreed to host a dinner party feast once a month. Of course we didn’t really start until our March going away dinner for Monica and Mattias, and we’ve only had 2 months of consistency, but every new goal needs a little wiggle room to become habit.
For April, the idea was to celebrate early spring using new fresh veggies that come out this time of year: asparagus, peas, spinach, arugula, and strawberries (alright, not a vegetable, but who’s keeping track?).
Appetizers: Crostini with Pea Puree
Crostini with Beef and Balsamic
Goat’s milk triple creme brie cheese
Salad: Shaved Asparagus with Arugula and Toasted Almonds
Main Course: Chicken in a Fennel Mushroom Sauce
Wilted Spinach with raisins and pine nuts
Dessert: Make your own hot fudge sundae, recipe follows
Let’s not forget the flowing wine and beer throughout the evening as well.
Make your own hot fudge sundae was so much fun, so it’s clearly the best place to start.
To-Die-For Hot Fudge Sauce, expanded from Crescent Dragonwagon’s “The Very Best Hot fudge Sauce” in The Passionate Vegetarian.
Printable PDF recipe: To die for hot fudge sundae sauce
1 14-ounce can evaporated milk (or soy milk, feeling indulgent? go with cream)
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (aim for 60% or higher cacao)
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (if you’re feeling adventurous, try a liqueur like Frangelico, amaretto, creme de menthe)
1. SHAKE evaporated can of milk VERY WELL, to break up the solids.
2. Create a cheap “double boiler” by placing a glass (or stainless steel) bowl over the edges of a simmering pot of water.
3. Combine evaporated milk with chocolates, sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in the glass bowl. Let chocolates melt and mix from time to time. Cook for about 5 minutes until all ingredients have dissolved into one another.
4. When everything has combined into a sauce, cook for another 10 minutes and DO NOT stir. The sauce will thicken and become very smooth.
5. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Then stir in the vanilla.
The sauce will last up to four months…if you can make it that long.
Hot fudge sundae toppings
Kris and I prepped various toppings: cut strawberries, toasted slivered almonds, chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups, chopped Skor toffee bars, and homemade hazelnut-spiked whipped cream. Guests chose from either coffee or vanilla ice cream (most chose both, myself included). And to top everything off, hot fudge sauce.
It’s funny how everyone’s personality came out in their finished sundae masterpieces.
My sundae was all messy and thrown together, zero structure.
My sundae, all messy and thrown together
Jocelyn was the only one brave enough to be photographed with her work of art.She made a very playful sundae.
Jocelyns playful sundae
Mike, her fiance, a software engineer, made a structural masterpiece. Kris says it looks like the entrance to the Temple of Doom, and he made me write that, Mike.
Mikes structural masterpiece
Kris’ friend from back in the undergrad days, Loren, made a pure sundae, straight and to the point, letting the strawberries take center stage.
Lorens pure sundae
Loren’s fiance, Yvette, a chemical engineer, created a sundae with an efficient use of ingredients, hers was the best portion-controlled. Go Yvette! Wish I could have said the same for mine.
Yvettes well-portioned sundae
Kris’ was of course, intense, full of as much as he could possibly fit in his bowl, while still maintaining structure.
Kris everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-and-then-some sundae
Everyone should be able to make a homemade hot fudge sauce. It makes sundae making that much more fun.
It was still good the next day, when we used it as fondue for bananas and apples.
And it’s still delicious two weeks later when we use it to top a blackberry sundae.
Delicious blackberry sundae...two weeks later