Q: How do they make the chocolate syrup that makes the hard shell on ice cream? If I use regular chocolate syrup, it stays runny. If I make fudge and don’t cook it completely hard, it gets sticky. What can I do to make the hard, crackly topping?
Answer: The difference is not in how you cook it, but what’s in it. Different types of fat get solid at different temperatures.
If you read the ingredient list on those hard-shell toppings, they all (all the ones that I looked at, at least) contain coconut oil. Coconut oil has a very high concentration of saturated fats, which are solid at room temperature. So replacing all or most of the cocoa butter or regular butter you used to make fudge with coconut oil will give you something that gets very hard when it’s ice cream-cold.
A homemade recipe I found from Cook’s Illustrated uses 4 tablespoons of coconut oil, which is now available in some stores, with 3 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and a pinch of salt. Chop up the chocolate, then mix all the ingredients and microwave carefully, stirring occasionally, until it all melts together. Use a medium power setting, not high. Let it cool, then spoon over ice cream.
Just remember with all that extra saturated fat going onto the fat in ice cream, it’s going to be a high-calorie, high-fat load on your system — so go easy on the amount!
Mary A. Keith, a licensed dietitian and health agent at Hillsborough County Extension, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.