It's time for a classic ingredient that people often thought of as bought. Chocolate syrup. You generally see two versions of this on the store shelves: Hershey's and Nestle Quick. Both will do in a pinch, and those raised on a certain type of chocolate syrup will probably have a preference for that syrup. Still, you have a few of the usual advantages making it at home:
- You can control the ingredients. If you have a favorite type of cocoa powder, or you want to ensure that your cocoa is fair trade, or you want your sugar to be carbon neutral, or whatever, you can do that if you make it yourself. You have limited opportunity to do that with most store bought syrups.
- You control the flavor. Want a spicy chocolate syrup? Add some chili pepper. Want a thin mint chocolate syrup? Add some peppermint extract. Your call entirely. You can adulterate the flavor of a commercial syrup to a point, but you have more opportunities to do so when you control the whole process.
- Bragging rights. "Yes, of course I make my own chocolate syrup. Don't you? It's the easiest thing in the world.
And, of course, it is terribly easy. Melt some sugar into some water, add flavorings, and reduce.
In case that went by too quickly, you melt some sugar into water to make the simple syrup:
Mix in your flavors:
Some things worth noting are that flavors included cocoa powder (dutch processed is preferred, but I used a blend of various powders because I didn't have enough of any one powder to make the whole batch), vanilla extract, and some chili powder. The ancho chili powder really is far too mild, though so it hardly added anything to the flavor or the heat. Because you are reducing a simple syrup, you also add some corn syrup in, which keeps the whole thing from crystalizing accidentally. I don't think you're going to reduce the syrup enough to really concentrate it enough for crystallization, but it doesn't hurt to add a bit of corn syrup.
I used my extra-strong, spiced rum vanilla extract, pictured above with the corn syrup.
Once everything was done, I packaged it up into a handy container. I didn't have a squeeze bottle handy, or I would have used one of those.
For the recipe, I used one of my standby sources, Good Eats. The Good Eats Cocoa Syrup seemed like a good bet for what I wanted. I was fast and loose with the measurements of most of the flavorings, but it was good for the handy relative amounts of water, sugar, and cocoa powder. By volume, you're using 1 : 1 : 2 water : cocoa : sugar. Be sure to add in a couple tablespoons of corn syrup and some salt, but the rest is really up to you.