Lost Italian: DIY and impress with Aunt Margie's Murderously Good Hot Fudge Sauce

DIY Murderously Good Hot Fudge Sauce makes a great holiday gift, especially when paired with a local murder mystery. David Samson / The Forum

If you’re still in need of some last-minute holiday gift ideas, especially for host or hostess and teacher gifts, then this week’s column was written for you.

I love to create edible DIY (do-it-yourself) gifts, and my Aunt Margie’s Murderously Good Hot Fudge Sauce is easy to make, decadently delicious and a fun way to show your appreciation.

This isn’t the first time I’ve shared one of Margie’s (Marjorie Mathison Hance) recipes in this column, where past favorites have included her Three-Herb Chicken and Mushrooms dish, the World’s-Best Sloppy Joes and a sunflower twist to her signature Peanut Brittle . These dishes have become family favorites for us, but Margie’s hot fudge tops the list.

Some holiday confections can be so fussy to make that they’ll leave me in a murderous state of mind (think divinity, sandbakkels and hard candy). But not this one. Rich, thick and super-chocolaty, Margie’s hot fudge sauce can be easily made in under 30 minutes, with just six basic pantry staples and a stovetop.


For a holiday treat, generously drizzle the hot fudge sauce over your favorite ice cream and top with crushed candy canes. David Samson / The Forum

For holiday gift-giving, I’ll package the hot fudge sauce in a small (8-ounce) jar adorned with a custom label and colorful ribbon. A charming gift on its own, this murderously good treat is even better when partnered with a variety of homemade gifts, or my other favorite go-to gift — a good book. After all, could there be a better way to enjoy Murderously Good Hot Fudge Sauce than with a good whodunit?

Picture yourself nestling in over the holidays with a singular hot fudge sundae, your favorite blanket and the imagination of your favorite mystery writer. It just so happens that my clever aunt has you covered on that front, too, with her recently published novel, "Murder at Pelican Lake." Margie’s tale takes place on the familiar shores of Pelican Lake, Minn., where murder and mayhem have filled the residents of this cozy enclave with doubt and suspicion.

A resident of Wayzata, Minn., Margie’s inspiration comes from the more than 50 summers she has spent on Pelican Lake and her story, while fiction, is filled with recognizable landmarks and images sure to delight any fan of our local lake scene. Zandbroz Variety, 420 Broadway N., in downtown Fargo is hosting a Writer Wonderland event from 6 to 8 p.m. this Thursday, Dec. 6, where you can meet Margie and about 10 other local writers who will be signing their books.

If you’re looking for more edible DIY ideas, Peppermint Bark , My Mother’s Best Toffee , Sarah’s Sun Brittle , Homemade Granola and Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix are some of my personal favorites. You can also find these and more great holiday dishes on my new blog at I hope to see you at Zandbroz this Thursday!

Cook the hot fudge sauce until it is glossy, thick and falls in ribbons from a spoon. David Samson / The Forum

Aunt Margie’s Murderously Good Hot Fudge Sauce

Makes: About 1 cup



¾ cup sugar

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons butter

1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt



In a small or medium saucepan, stir together the sugar and cocoa until combined.

Add the cream and butter and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly (a wooden spoon works best). The mixture will clump at first, and then become smooth and glossy. Boil for 30 seconds, then remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.

Serve immediately with your favorite ice cream or cool and refrigerate for up to one month.

Sarah’s Tips:

  • Reheat on the stove or in the microwave until hot enough to drip easily from a spoon.
  • For a sweeter, more milk-chocolate version, use 1 cup sugar and ¾ cup heavy cream.
  • Perfect for hostess and teacher gifts when packaged in a jar with holiday trimmings.

Recipe Time Capsule:

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“Home With the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at

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