Hot-Tin-Roof Sundaes

September 15, 2010

Let’s pretend for a moment that this is a great photograph.  Let’s pretend that it was taken outside in natural light with no shadows and just moments after this Tin Roof Sundae was made.  So it is not melty and there are no artificial lights bouncing their glare off the glass.

My brother Michael’s birthday is August 26th.  It is sandwiched between my anniversary ( August 24th) and our brother Alex’s anniversary (September 1st).  It falls in the last week of August when my parents are always in Sun Valley.  That last week of August also happens to be when people are cramming their days full of summery things because school is about to start.  And Michael is always very aware of the fact that school is about to start because he is a teacher.  Suffice it to say, Michael’s birthday tends to get a little overlooked.  (I have tried to teach him that if you make a big stink about your birthday, you can actually milk it for a month or more.  But I am a Leo and he is a Virgo and Virgos seem not to care.)

This year, our other family members and his girlfriend were out of town on his big day, so I offered to make him dinner.  I told him he could invite friends and I would make whatever he wanted.  He paused for one second and then told me he wanted the Banh Mi-like Vietnamese Tofu Sandwiches.  He left the appetizers and sides up to me but he was adamant about dessert.  Hot-Tin-Roof Sundaes.

Last summer, Micheal asked me to cook a special bachelor dinner for his best friend who was about to get married.  It was a long night – five courses.  It was the night that I made vegan pâté, a melon soup, and that tomato-burrata salad that I won’t shut up about.  By the time the main course rolled around, I was tired and just done taking pictures.  The sundaes turned out really well and the very full groom-to-be and his friends wolfed down every bite.  I was sorry I didn’t get a picture so I could share with all of you.

So, if you are excited about this, it’s Michael you should thank for asking me to make them again.  To be honest, I was surprised this was his birthday choice.  Michael is a cookies guy, a cake guy, a pie guy – I didn’t really think he was an ice cream guy.  At least not as his first choice.  When I asked him, he said that he just loved the combination here.  He remembered the components better than I did.  Cocoa nib ice cream, chocolate caramel sauce, and chile-lime peanuts.  Oh yeah.  That was pretty good.

So I couldn’t let another stab at this beauty go by without sharing.  Please, look past the bad photo and give this a try.  Of course, you could do any one part of it and have a great dessert.  Or just make the peanuts for a pre-dinner snack.

One Year Ago: Holly B’s Bruschetta
Two Years Ago: Pomodori Al Forno (this is one of my most requested appetizers)

Hot-Tin-Roof Sundaes
Adapted from Gourmet
6 to 8 servings

In my experience, this recipe makes way more chocolate sauce than you will need for the sundaes.  This is not a terrible problem to have.  However, if you make it in advance and are reheating it, don’t reheat the whole portion at once.  Just scoop out as much as you will need and rewarm that portion.

Chocolate-Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup corn syrup
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 60% cocoa), chopped

Ice Cream
3 cups reduced-fat milk (2%)
12 tbsp. cocoa nibs, divided
6 tbsp. sugar
6 tbsp. light corn syrup
3 large egg yolks
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1½ cups chilled heavy whipping cream
Pinch of kosher salt
Chile-Lime Peanuts (recipe follows)

For Chocolate Sauce:
Stir first 4 ingredients in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves, occasionally brushing down pan sides with wet pastry brush.  Increase heat and boil until syrup is deep amber, swirling pan occasionally, about 10 minutes.  Turn off heat.  Add cream and butter (mixture will bubble up).  Stir until any caramel bits dissolve.  Stir in salt and vanilla.  Add chocolate; stir until melted.  (Can be made 1 week ahead.  Transfer sauce to medium bowl.  Cover and chill.  Rewarm before using.)

For Ice Cream:
Bring milk, 6 tablespoons cocoa nibs, sugar, and corn syrup just to boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat; cover.  Steep 20 minutes.

Whisk egg yolks and cornstarch in medium bowl until blended; gradually whisk in warm milk mixture.  Return custard to same saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until custard thickens and just begins to boil, 2 to 3 minutes.  Strain custard into large bowl; discard nibs.  Whisk in cream and salt.  Chill custard until cold.

Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Transfer to container; mix in remaining 6 tablespoons cocoa nibs.  Cover and freeze at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

For each sundae, place 2 scoops ice cream in a short tumbler; spoon warm sauce over.  Sprinkle with Chile-Lime Peanuts.

Chile-Lime Peanuts
Makes about 2 cups

2 cups raw Spanish peanuts
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce
¾ tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Toss peanuts, olive oil, coarse kosher salt, and sugar in medium bowl to coat evenly.  Scrape mixture onto rimmed baking sheet.  Roast nuts until fragrant and beginning to darken, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.  Transfer nuts to large bowl.  Add lime juice, hot pepper sauce, and cayenne pepper; toss to coat.  Cool nuts completely.  (Can be made 1 week ahead.  Store in airtight container in refrigerator.)


  1. This looks perfect! I love cocoa nibs on ice cream and I’m really sad that this year I haven’t pulled out our ice cream maker (it’s an old thrifted churn one). I know I’d love this ice cream but probably will end up making the peanuts and the chocolate sauce and pouring it over store bought ice cream. It looks amazing!

    Comment by kickpleat — September 15, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

  2. My brother is super picky so when he actually requests something I’ve made – I listen.

    I can see why your brother requested this sundae. Nothing sounds better to me right now than chili lime peanuts in ice cream. I may just have to buy some vanilla ice cream and stuff some chili lime peanuts into it while I wait for my ice cream maker to chill.

    Comment by Joanne — September 15, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  3. Man this looks good. I want!

    I’m a Leo, too. I had a week of events for my birthday. Silly Virgos. :)

    Comment by Janet — September 16, 2010 @ 1:29 am

  4. It is nighttime here. Bedtime, in fact. I’m about to turn off the computer, climb into bed, open a book that I know will soon fall on the floor as I fall asleep and then I know what is going to happen. I am going to drift into a dreamland of hot tin roof sundaes. I think your brother is a very lucky fellow to have you for a sister AND I think your photo looks pretty dang good. I can’t wait to try this, Dana.

    Comment by Penny — September 16, 2010 @ 1:59 am

  5. Chile lime peanuts in a sundae is GENIUS. You are a GENIUS.

    Comment by Kate @Savour Fare — September 16, 2010 @ 4:47 am

  6. Thank, thank you…I was trying to figure out what to make with my heavy cream that’s on the verge of expiring and the chocolate caramel sauce is it! :) Too bad I don’t have enough cream to make the ice cream, because I’ll take this entire concoction any day, even on a rainy day like today.

    PS I might just add the nibs to the sauce. I’m so glad I bought some from Theo chocolate!

    Comment by Joy — September 16, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

  7. I love a tin roof sundae, and the chile lime peanuts are genius! I have to try those next time.

    Comment by lisaiscooking — September 17, 2010 @ 2:00 pm

  8. I have made this cake numerous times and it never lets me down. I prefer a lighter crumb with cakes so this is right up my alley. The frosting is divine too! Yours turned out quite lovely. I’m sure your guest felt like the luckiest guy ever.

    Comment by Amanda — September 19, 2010 @ 5:29 pm

  9. Hey I think the photo looks really good! And had to laugh about your virgo/leo comment as I’m a virgo and feel the same as your brother.

    Comment by Ashley — October 5, 2010 @ 2:38 am

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