Chocolate Syrup, the Old-Fashioned Way

(Kim O'Donnel)

As part of our recent efforts to offer DIY versions of HFCS-sweetened packaged goods from the supermarket, today’s feature is all about chocolate syrup. That’s right, I’m leaving NesQuik and Ovaltine out of the conversation and instead focusing my energy on the unctuous, brown elixir that transforms vanilla ice cream into a brown cow milkshake and what turns an ordinary glass of milk into dessert. Even though I rarely touch the stuff these days, chocolate syrup is a piece of my childhood that takes me back to diners, ice cream parlors at the Jersey shore and the hospital green vintage milk shake machine on the kitchen counter that my father liked to operate on special occasions. I can see the syrup being poured into those stainless cups as I type.

For a sweet walk down memory lane, I highly recommend trying out the recipe below, which is inspired by Fake Plastic Fish, the blog home of Oakland, Calif.-based Beth Terry, who’s making it her mission to minimize her use of plastic in everything from drinking water to you got it -- chocolate syrup.

As it turns out, making your own chocolate syrup is ridiculously easy and incredibly gratifying. It takes all of 15 minutes to cook on the stove, then maybe a good hour to completely cool. The consistency, even before some time in the fridge, is plenty thick, and you’ll swoon over the choco-intensity.

I decided to put the syrup to the test with one of the few adult milk drinkers I know -- my brother, Tim, who’s visiting me this week. He insisted that I pour half a glass of milk before swirling in the syrup, then with a tall spoon, we clinked it around the glass to make sure it was completely dissolved.

“Go on, tell me what you think,” I said to him.

He lifted the glass to his lips, slurped back a few ounces and set the glass on the counter.

“Aaaah,” he whispered. “Chocolately.”

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup cold water
¼ teaspoon salt
2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk cocoa and sugar until all the lumps of cocoa are gone. Add water and salt and mix well with whisk. Cook over medium heat, bringing it to a boil. Keep boiling until thick, stirring to keep from scalding.

Remove from heat and allow to cool. When cool, add vanilla. Pour into an airtight glass container or a squeeze bottle and keep refrigerated.

To make chocolate milk, use at least 1 tablespoon of syrup for every 8 ounces of milk, adding more to taste.

Makes about 1 3/4 cups.

By Kim ODonnel |  February 18, 2009; 10:00 AM ET Desserts , Discoveries
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I think my first foray into adult cooking was a result of learning to make hot fudge at home. When in college I read a recipe in Glamour magazine of all places (I know, I cringe now, to have read and to have trusted their recipe, but in my defense this was in the 1980s, I was young, my college was on the beach and Glamour hadn't yet been purchased by Cosmo and it was trying to be a real woman's mag, covering politics a bit and more than beauty stuff) for hot fudge sauce. I discovered how it easy it was, which led me to discover that homemade ice cream was easy, too, and if those were simple, so might everything else be. An amateur chef was born.

Posted by: esleigh | February 18, 2009 10:55 AM

Perfectly simple and inexpensive, I love it!

Posted by: godairyfree | February 18, 2009 11:50 AM

This is great. We like to drizzle chocolate syrup over ice cream. Not fudge, but syrup that're really chocolatey. How long do you think this would keep in the fridge?

Posted by: ChristineDC | February 18, 2009 12:05 PM

ChristineDC, that's exactly what Mister MA and my brother did last night. Because the syrup is free of dairy products, I reckon it'll keep in an airtight container a few weeks -- if it lasts that long!

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | February 18, 2009 12:23 PM

This is so great! Thank you I'll be making this tonight and using it over my ice cream, can't wait.

Posted by: Librasmoon | February 18, 2009 2:25 PM

When we used to make hot chocolate using cocoa powder there was always a shake or two of salt in it.

Kim, what do you think? Would a dash of salt improve your potion?

Posted by: margaretmeyers | February 19, 2009 9:42 AM

Margaretmeyers, yes, I agree with you -- there's 1/4 teaspoon salt in the ingredients list.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | February 19, 2009 12:01 PM


Posted by: margaretmeyers | February 19, 2009 3:13 PM

I do this in small amounts in the microwave - typically a tablespoon or so each of cocoa, sugar and water (maybe less water) - plus salt & vanilla if I remember. Microwave for 20 seconds or less - just enough to bubble it up. Takes maybe 30 sec. to make enough for a mocha latte.

Posted by: FunkyGawy | February 23, 2009 12:21 PM

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