Manual's Sweet Shoppe. Those three words bring many sweet memories to mind. Mr. Manual was a very large and wonderful Italian chocolatier. His wife was just as friendly and helped run the business. And their one-and-only restaurant was in my hometown. The customer was treated like family. They served deserts, all home made in the kitchen in the back. In the display case by the front door were beautiful hand made sweets: chocolate cakes, brownies, fudge and hand-dipped chocolate candies. In their restaurant, they served ice cream sundaes with fabulous homemade sauces.
At Easter-time, Mr. Manuel's Sweet Shoppe was filled with beautiful hand molded chocolate Easter bunnies wrapped in crisp clear plastic wrap and tied with pastel-colored bows. They didn't have both ears standing perkily up. They were unique, one-of-a-kind bunnies. One ear fell to the side. Every Easter, our baskets had a solid chocolate lopped eared bunny nestled among the grass and Easter eggs. I acquired a mold for the lop-eared bunny and I cannot remember where I got it, but I think my sister gave it to me. I haven't mastered the art of tempering chocolate and molding bunnies, but I love my bunny mold anyway.
Among all the sweets, Mr. Manuel had the most delicious Hot Fudge Sauce. I wish to this day we could have had that recipe. I hope his recipes didn't die with him. This Hot Fudge was different than any other I have ever tasted. I can still remember, it had a sticky consistency. My first job, when I was 15, was at Manual's Sweet Shoppe. I was the dishwasher. They served this Hot Fudge in a tiny jar, about the size of a shot glass, beside the ice cream. The diner then could add the Hot Fudge to his liking.
I always felt scandalized if those jars came back with any Hot Fudge left inside. The fudge was so sticky, it was hard to scrape it out, but not only that, I felt it was a sin to pour it down the drain. Because I had to use a spoon to scrape it out of the tiny jar, it was not hard to just pop that spoon into my mouth. I must confess that I took to keeping a clean spoon and eating the fudge that seemed untouched before I poured water into the tiny jars. Luckily, back then I wasn't prone to gain any weight.
Recently I came upon this hot fudge recipe and decided to try it since I had all the ingredients already in my cupboard. It was fun to stir this for 10 minutes and watch it become more smooth. Adding the butter and Mexican vanilla made it really delicious. It does not have the sticky consistency of Mr. Manuel's Hot Fudge, but it is good, anyway. I might play around with this recipe, perhaps reducing the amount of sugar, and adding some corn syrup. I have heard that corn syrup prevents crystals from forming. Mr. Manuel's Hot Fudge wasn't as sweet as this recipe turned out, and perhaps he boiled it longer, to get it more sticky. I need a candy-maker's thermometer, so I can see where Soft Ball stage is, and so on.
Anyway, without further adieu, here is the recipe I tried last night.
Chocolate Fudge Sauce
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1/4 pound cold butter cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vanilla
Start with a heavy-bottomed saucepan, at least 2 quarts because sauce doubles in size. Place sugar in pan with cocoa powder. Stir with wooden spoon until well-blended. Add evaporated mild. Continue to stir until blended well. Once it's mixed well, turn heat to medium. Stir constantly. Bring mixture to boil, about 5 minutes. Let it boil for another five minutes, stirring constantly. Make sure chocolate doesn't burn. Pull sauce off heat and add butter. Stir sauce until the butter is completely melted. Add vanilla and serve over *ice cream. Store sauce in refrigerator and reheat in microwave or water bath.
This recipe is taken from February 2008 Guide Posts magazine, page 93.
*Who needs ice cream? This stuff is good just out of the jar on a spoon.