feasting with friends

Michigan Monday: Sanders Milk Chocolate Hot Fudge {Copy-Cat Recipe}

sanders hot fudge recipeLike many Detroit area residents, I grew up on desserts and confections from Sanders Chocolates. Sanders was first opened by German born Fred Sanders on June 17, 1875. The business, in it’s hey day, numbered close to 60 stores in the Great Lakes Region and elsewhere. Sanders retailers sold candy, fudge toppings, and baked goods, as well as light meals and an assortment of desserts at fountain counters (ice cream sodas, sundaes and hot fudge cream puffs). It was always a special treat to sit at the fountain counter in my youth.

Sanders images, then and now, via Sanders web page.


While the ice cream soda was the first signature menu item, Sanders would also become known for its dessert toppings, including hot fudge and classic caramel – using the original recipes passed down from generation to generation. Other popular menu items include the Hot Fudge Cream Puff, which Sanders still offers in its retails stores, and the “Bumpy Cake”, which is a devil’s food cake topped with “bumps” of buttercream which is cloaked in chocolate ganache.

It is the hot fudge, specifically the milk chocolate variety, I bring you today. I served it atop a cream puff filled with French vanilla ice cream (Stroh’s, of course, another Detroit classic).

sanders hot fudge recipesanders hot fudge recipe

For many, many years running, my Great Aunt Marg would take my sister and I for an overnight adventure in the week or so preceding Christmas. When we were very young, the adventure would begin at Toys R Us. We were allowed to choose a toy(s) of our liking, whatever our heart desired. We would then go out to a restaurant or possibly dine on her famous hot chicken salad at her home. We slept over, snoozing on a sofa bed. The next morning (actually pushing noon), we would head to Sanders. We would sit at the fountain counter for a breakfast of scrambled eggs. (Aunt Marg swore no-one made them better.) Downing the eggs meant dessert was next! In my case…the hot fudge cream puff sundae!

sanders hot fudge recipe

I’m including a recipe for cream puffs (profiteroles) following the hot fudge recipe. I’ve been making these since junior high school. It happens to be one of the first recipes I remember being successful with at a youngish age. I made this exact recipe for my French class when I was required to give a presentation. As I recall, my grade for proper usage of the French language – “B” … but … I got an “A” for the profiteroles!

Sanders Milk Chocolate Hot Fudge

  • Servings: about 1½ cup
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

sanders hot fudge recipe
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa
2 Tablespoons butter, unsalted
1 scant cup evaporated milk (I used 2%)
1 teaspoon vanilla


  • In a medium sized, heavy pot whisk together the sugar and cocoa.
  • Stir over low heat for about 2 minutes. The goal is to slightly heat the mixture. Do not melt.
  • Add the milk, stirring constantly. Increase the heat to medium heat and boil rapidly for one minute.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  • Store in a glass container in the refrigerator. For serving, heat on the stove top or in the microwave.

Cream Puffs

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup water
1/4 cup butter (4 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup AP flour
2 eggs


  • Heat oven to 400°F.
  • Heat water and butter to a rolling boil in a saucepan. Stir in the flour. Reduce the heat to low. Stir vigorously (with a wooden spoon) until the mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  • Add the eggs, all at once. Stir vigorously with the wooden spoon until the dough is smooth.
  • Drop dough by scant ¼-cupfuls about 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.
  • Bake until puffed and golden, 35-40 minutes. Cool away from draft.
  • Cut (tear) off tops; pull out any filaments of soft dough. Fill as desired with ice cream or sweet cream.


  1. Pingback: Michigan Monday: Sander’s Bumpy Cake {Copy-Cat} | feasting with friends

  2. What an incredible surprise to see this post! ;-> About two weeks before this was posted, I had been telling a friend about Sanders, thus looked it up on the net – saw some of the same pictures you have. What fun! I am definitely going to try out the copy cat recipe – it looks just like what I remember – even though I was only about five years old at the time we lived in Royal Oak. It was just a wide spot in the road then; looks like it is very chi-chi now!

    Virtual hugs,


  3. Did you say Sanders and oh yes I see a carton of Stroh’s ice cream – yum! We moved to Grosse Pointe when I was a teenager and we were fortunate enough to live within 2 blocks of the shop. Even though my parents are gone a sister still lives there and we can still walk to get some of their treats. I just made a dessert using their caramel. Too bad the business is no longer in Michigan – Texas I hear! Thanks for the recipes as I have lots of good memories from many years as they went through their changes 🙂

    • Texas? Really…I was under the impression that the Morley Candy Company now owned all of the recipes and that they were made on the east-side…Mt. Clemens, I think. Regardless, I’m glad the products are once again available. Love that Bumpy Cake!
      A Sanders within walking distance would have been dangerous for me! A jar of the sauce in my home can be a dangerous prospect… and I’ve been known to sneak a spoonful (or two) straight from the jar in moments of weakness! At least now, I can make it whenever the craving strikes. 🙂

      • I thought the headquarters is still here and retail stores but not the manufacturing even though the owners promised to keep it here; they gradually phased it out. Maybe I am confused with some other company. Anyways, they have good stuff don’t they?

  4. skd

    Excellent recipe for cream puffs Nancy. I want to try this. What exactly should be the consistency of the dough. Should it be like a bread dough because you have mentioned that it should be dropped on the sheet. Beautiful in all. I am sure yours will be tough competition to the Sanders’ 😋

  5. You really did hit home with this post, Nancy. Yes, we, too, visited a Sanders fountain counter, once every Christmas, and enjoyed one of their hot fudge sundaes. Out of the blue, my sister gave me an assortment of Sanders’ sauces last Christmas and I’ve relived those childhood memories several times since, with each bit of sauce that I poured. And now you’ve given me cause to relive them again. Thank you. 🙂

    • Oh my…too bad it wasn’t liver and onions! Hope were able to indulge in all you missed during those long two decades! Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment. 🙂

  6. Liz

    oh, that looks good. I have not heard of Sanders, but how awesome to have those memories. That’s maybe my favorite thing about food–the memories it uncovers for us. Scrambled eggs followed by a cream puff sundae sounds like heaven to me!

  7. LoPie

    Nancy, what a wonderful Detroit Treat, and delicious too! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I can’t wait to whip up a jar of my own “crack!”

  8. What a great story! I had an aunt that took us places, too, but all I remember are the escalators we were allowed to ride a few times before she made us move on… yes, I did grow up in the countryside, how did you know?

  9. This looks amazing, Nancy! What fun memories you have with your aunt. I enjoyed reading about Sanders as I hadn’t heard of it before. My dad had a favorite restaurant that served cream puffs with hot fudge sauce over them and he loved them, but they went out of business. I should make these for him!

    • Thank you, Shari! Sanders was definitely a favorite of years gone by. It was recently resurrected by a previous competitor and though it’s wonderful to have the products available, I do miss the old soda fountain. I hope you do give the recipes a go for your dad…I bet you’d make him one very happy man! 🙂

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