A shiny, gooey, very chocolatey hot fudge that comes together with just sweetened condensed milk and unsweetened chocolate. No cream, sugar, butter, cocoa powder, or corn syrup needed.
Simply milk and sugar, reduced until 60 percent of the water evaporates, sweetened condensed milk is, as you’d expect, milky and sweet. But it also has a toffee-like nuance thanks to the Maillard reaction that occurs during the condensing process. Which means this ingredient not only contributes hot fudge’s ganache-esque consistency—it also brings a more complex flavor than fresh dairy ever could.
In case you’re wondering: Yes, semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, would work as substitutes. But! Unsweetened keeps the sweetness in check—especially considering that you’re probably pouring this on top of something also-sweet, like ice cream. (Speaking of which: I highly recommend hot fudge on plain whole-milk Greek yogurt, a combo that sounds halfway between breakfast and dessert. And really, it’s fair game for both.)
If you don’t like salty desserts, start with 1/2 or even 1/4 teaspoon, then increase to taste. Beyond that, add whatever flavoring you want to taste. Think: vanilla extract, instant espresso powder, ground cayenne, ground chipotle, bourbon, rum. But I like this best as-is, no frills, no fuss.
Store any leftovers in the fridge. The hot fudge will stiffen up as it chills—no worries—whenever you’re ready for another treat, gently rewarm on the stove or in the microwave, maybe with a splash of water to help things along, and stir until smooth.
This is one of our Big Little Recipes, our weekly column all about dishes with big flavor and little ingredient lists. Do you know (and love) a recipe that’s low in ask, high in reward? Let us know in the comments. —Emma Laperruque
Combine the sweetened condensed milk, ¼ cup water, and salt in a small saucepan, and set over low heat. Add the chocolate and stir to incorporate. Continue to cook, stirring slowly but constantly, just until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is shiny and smooth. At this point, you might want to add more water to loosen things up—add in 1-tablespoon increments until the consistency is sundae-worthy to you. Stir in a bonus ingredient (see the Author Notes for suggestions) if you want, and adjust the salt to taste.
Serve warm with ice cream (especially vanilla or coffee), frozen yogurt, Greek yogurt, pudding, you name it. Store any leftovers in the fridge.
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.