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My pregnant wife's cravings have recently turned towards sweets, and this week it is banana splits, with a very specific formula: chocolate ice cream, banana, whipped cream, and hot fudge.

It's not such an extraordinary recipe, I suppose, but the hot fudge is simply not a topping we keep in our house or really have a lot of experience with. So after picking up a jar of hot fudge topping, and zapping it in the microwave, per the instructions, I experienced the obvious result that has presumably been experienced by millions before: hot fudge melts cold ice cream.

Rather quickly, the sundae disintegrated into a soupy mess at the bottom of the bowl, with a rapidly decreasing scoop of ice cream bathing in the pool, and banana bits swimming about. It was not a pretty sight.

What means could I take to mitigate the fudge's effect on the ice cream, or are my wife's hopes and expectations just a dream in the shadow of this bleak reality?

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Personally, I always thought this was the goal of hot fudge on ice cream: a delicious, soupy mess. –  FuzzyChef May 22 '12 at 5:11
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6 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I think isolating the fudge could be a good way to fix this. It might complicate your dish, but it might add both to the presentation as well as to the texture of the ice cream.

Try getting hold of or make your own biscuit rolls (I don't know the name). Fill these up with hot fudge. The biscuit will act as isolation keep the texture of both the ice cream and the fudge. In this way the only time the two will get in contact with each other is when one breaks up the biscuit to eat it.

If biscuits doesn't cut it, chocolate tubes or similar could do the same trick.

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They are known as hippen, sometimes also as tuiles, see cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/16110/… –  rumtscho May 22 '12 at 13:53
    
I wonder if I could use the banana as a dam between the ice cream and the fudge to help keep the isolated as you suggest. –  Ray May 22 '12 at 15:12
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@Ray- and bananadam is fun to say. Kind of like youtube.com/watch?v=8N_tupPBtWQ –  Sobachatina May 22 '12 at 16:11
    
@Ray, that is an excellent suggestion, and so remarkable simple. –  daramarak May 23 '12 at 6:34
    
My solution was a combination of your answer and those of Galapagos Jim, and Sobachatina. For one, the week's first Sundae was made with ice cream straight from the store--a bit mushy still as it was. A couple days in the freezer really helped push that into "deep freeze". But the essence of idea that really made this work was your phrase "isolating the fudge". I didn't use biscuit rolls, but rather used the banana as a barrier between a hot fudge pool on one side of the plate, and the especially cold ice cream on the other side. This had the additional advantage of presentation. –  Ray May 23 '12 at 9:49
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I don't have any direct experience to share, but it seems a little logic may be applicable. I suggest that your hot fudge is too hot and your ice cream is not icy (cold) enough.

Rather than microwaving the fudge, try a hot water bath on the stove. Yeah, it's slower, but you also won't burn the bejeezus out of the sugar at the edges. Taste occasionally while stirring until you get that pleasingly warm mouthfeel. Stirring frequently* will help distribute the heat.

Alternately, microwave in small bursts, stirring* as you stop and taste.

*Sanitary practice compels me to advise you to use a fresh spoon every time you stir and taste in order to avoid contamination. But it's your house.

The hot part being taken care of, make sure your freezer is actually freezing cold. Don't take the ice cream out ahead of serving so it doesn't soften. Best way to scoop hard ice cream is to use a metal scoop dipped in very hot water. Cuts through like buttah.

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You can also use a thermometer to avoid any sanitary concerns. (At least once you determine what temperature you like your fudge at) –  derobert May 22 '12 at 15:51
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Eat it faster.

Seriously. I am a huge fan of homemade hot fudge and much of the appeal is the contrast between the cold and the hot. Freezing your ice cream more solid will help but insufficiently heating the chocolate won't. If the fudge gets too cool it sets up into one solid chewy chunk.

Perhaps your best solution would be to serve smaller portions that can be consumed before the fudge and the ice cream reach equilibrium and the magic is lost.

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+1 because the whole point is the contrast between hot and cold... –  Ward May 22 '12 at 7:14
    
Which makes me think: get a bowl of ice cream and a dish of hot fudge... Possible kept in hot water or over a heat source of some kind... Mix them one spoonful at a time, like fondue. –  philosodad May 24 '12 at 1:37
    
@philo- Like ice cream and banana filled cream puffs, frozen solid, and dipped in chocolate fondue. I am totally going to do this. –  Sobachatina May 24 '12 at 14:21
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When I was a teen in a rollerskating ice cream parlour, we had to get sundaes out quick with hot fudge.

Most of the fudge was swirled around the glass container (somehow colder than porcelain) and only a bit on top before a blast of cream and a shower of nuts.

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My parents always enjoyed making hot fudge but had similar issues to you. So they found very small bowls and now serve the ice cream in normal sized dishes (with any additional non-melting toppings) and provide a small side dish of fudge.

Two great benefits with this method.

  1. Ice cream doesn't melt/Fudge doesn't cool off as quickly.
  2. Every person gets to enjoy as much or as little fudge as they like.

Hope you can find a way that works for you.

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It's a simple matter of thermodynamics. Consider the variables:

  • temperature of ice cream, Tic

  • temperature of fudge, Tf

  • heat transfer coefficient, h

  • heat transfer surface area, A

I'll leave the derivation of the heat transfer equation as it pertains to sundaes as an exercise for the reader, but it's intuitive that you have a number of options, including:

  • colder ice cream

  • not quite so hot fudge

  • modifying the heat transfer coefficient, such as by adding insulating materials or using an ice cream with lower thermal conductivity (it'd be interesting to study the effect of overage on heat transfer)

  • decrease the area of contact between fudge and ice cream; it's a good be that sundaes are traditionally served in tall, narrow glasses for just this reason

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