Here's the recipe:
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder (some recipes specify dutch-process)
pinch of salt
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1. Water and sugar in a saucepan. Heat gently to a low boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
2. Whisk cocoa powder into the syrup and let simmer gently for a few minutes to thicken.
3. Stir in salt & vanilla.
Finished syrup will thicken as it cools. I found out the hard way that chocolate syrup should be refrigerated even though the components don't need to be. Don't make my mistake!
The whole recipe takes about six minutes to prepare. In fact, I am usually making the syrup while I make the kids' breakfasts on school mornings because I have just discovered that we're out as I was trying to prepare Quentin's chocolate milk. Syrup stirs into warm milk more efficiently than cocoa powder. Because my kids don't actually like milk very much, chocolate milk was the alternative to no milk at all; but that doesn't mean I have to feed them high-fructose corn syrup out of a bottle that leaches BPA.
And speaking of BPA, part of what I like about this recipe is that it makes it possible for me to avoid another plastic bottle. I can buy the salt, sugar, and cocoa powder from the bulk section of our grocery store, so I avoid almost any kind of waste at all (my vanilla comes in a glass bottle). Plus, I can customize the syrup.
- Although this syrup is quite rich and chocolaty, you can up the luxury factor by reducing the sugar (slightly) and increasing the cocoa powder (slightly) to make it even richer.
- Add-ins like a touch of cayenne pepper, cinnamon, or alternate flavors like orange or almond extracts bring a grown-up touch to the syrup.
- Instead of using orange extract, simmer a few strips of orange zest in the simple syrup, and then fish them out before adding the cocoa powder. (you can do the same with a cinnamon stick instead)
- This chocolate syrup is also yummy in coffee, over ice cream, mixed in your favorite chocolate martini recipe, in sparkling water for an Italian soda (would be divine that with orange flavoring), or as a glaze over cakes and muffins.
Bonus: If you are going to make a chocolate martini or an Italian soda, you can make a rimming powder by running a quarter cup of sugar through a tiny blender or food processor and then mixing with a tablespoon or two of cocoa powder and/or ground cinnamon (to taste).
Why not to buy chocolate syrup:
1. The plastic bottle is unnecessary waste. Even if you go to the trouble of cleaning out the bottle so it will be recycled (dirty bottles won't be), the squirt top will not be recycled. Not to mention that you have bought and paid for a bottle that could be leaching BPA into your syrup. Yum!
2. Convenience. The ingredients have a long shelf life without getting icky. I always have cocoa powder on hand, I always have sugar, and I always have salt and vanilla. Ergo, I always have chocolate syrup available. If I always bought my chocolate syrup, I would risk not having any available for that third child who has been patiently waiting for the hot cocoa, only to discover that he's going to be getting gypped because I ran out halfway through making the second kid's cocoa.
3. Convenience II. Chocolate syrup dissolves into milk way better than cocoa powder and sugar, meaning no disgusting bitter lumps surprising picky kids.
4. Quality. I love chocolate. I do not love sugar. Call me crazy, but I don't actually have much of a sweet tooth. Making my own means my chocolate syrup actually tastes like chocolate.
5. Ingredients. See what you're paying for when you buy commercial chocolate syrup:
HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP; CORN SYRUP; WATER; COCOA; SUGAR; CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: POTASSIUM SORBATE (PRESERVATIVE); SALT; MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES; XANTHAN GUM; POLYSORBATE 60; VANILLIN, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR