Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chocolate Syrup: Corn Syrup and Plastic-Free...

Friday night before bed, I clicked on the Food Network for a few minutes while I enjoyed the last few bites of my February Daring Baker's Challenge dessert. I actually wanted to veg out in front of a movie, but don't you know 50 channels and a bit of free time (I was trying to rest my hands from knitting...) and not one thing to watch. Fortunately, Alton's episode "The Art of Darkness" was airing. Though I've seen it before, I love cocoa powder, and didn't mind my refresher course. I know Alton uses a tablespoon or so of corn syrup in many boiling sugar recipes, since it prevents crystallization of the sugar... but when he was mixing a saucier of molten black chocolate syrup, a seed of inspiration was planted.

You can see Alton stirring the goods around minute 3:15 on the YouTube video above. I drifted off to sleep thinking about that thick syrup, and about just how long it's been since I've had chocolate syrup. I didn't really even plan on making it, but the next morning, it was complete by 9:30. I can't say that I'm sorry either.

I had forgotten about the pure bliss of chocolate syrup, and probably have overindulged in the 24 hours since its creation, trying it in many ways. My coffee was first off, only since it was still hot and right in front of me. I don't like much in my coffee, just a bit of cream in the first cup, and black for the second, and certainly no sweetener. But chocolate syrup in coffee? Sasa, you're on to something... I could almost make a habit this! I ended my day with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and some coarsely chopped peanuts. This morning, I had it mixed into my homemade yogurt, an even better version of the Wallaby Organic chocolate yogurt that I splurge on once in a while.

I thought the corn syrup was probably not a requisite ingredient, especially if a few pesky sugar crystals were all it was going to prevent. I perused the Google results for recipes and found basically Alton's recipe with corn-syrup omission at Fake Plastic Fish. The website is dedicated to the reduction of plastics in everyday life, something I completely agree with. While perusing it for awhile, I'm reminded of how shocking the widespread use of plastic truly is.

With all of this talk about BPA and toxic effects from heating foods in "microwaveable-safe" plastic containers, I genuinely feel no panic. Most of our canned or tinned food, is home canned in glass and I store almost everything in glass. I even use the plastic wrap sparingly. Granted, for some uses like wrapping up a pastry dough, I can't really find a suitable substitute, but more and more I find myself going plastic free as it relates (especially) to food storage. I have a sensitive nose, and just the smell of plastic bags turns me off, not to mention the taste I swear transfers to the foods stored in them.

OK, I'm off my soap box now...

I sterilized the jars by boiling them in water for 10 minutes and soon after was rewarded with "The Art of Darkness" in my very own kitchen: and yet another thing for the list of things I'll never buy again.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup adapted from Alton Brown and Fake Plastic Fish

  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 t. (a pinch) Kosher salt
  • 1 c. cocoa powder (Organic Dutch process)
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 T. vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, combine sugars, salt and cocoa and whisk to combine. Add water, and heat over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, stirring constantly (to avoid boiling over). Boil several minutes, until the mixture thickens - and remember that it will thicken more as it cools. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract, and store in glass jars. Makes 2 8 oz. jars, with just enough left over to take you through a day of experimenting with the ultimate "Art of Darkness".

My syrup cooled into a supreme and inky thickness, and I got the Boy-O seal of approval in a lunchtime chocolate milk. Yes, it has a boatload of sugar, but yes, it is worth it. You can comfort yourself by using all Organic ingredients if you like, and only needing a teaspoon or so for a 8 oz. glass of milk since it's so rich. That was all it took for me, anyway.


  1. the chocolate syrup looks delicious! and its great to have a corn syrup free option. i really like the fake plastic fish site though i hadn't gone there for ages so i'm glad to have your reminder! -t

  2. Oh my, if I had known homemade chocolate syrup was so easy, I would not have contributed so much to the building fund of Hershey Park. This Rebecca-Alton sauce looks even better.

    For once I am glad those 50 channels did not have anything more interesting to watch... TG for the Food Network!

  3. I WATCHED THE SAME EPISODE! I am so glad someone tried this in the food blog world - it looks amazing and I am glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Great recipe! Thanks for doing the research to find this corn syrup-free version. By the way, I gave you an award on my blog. Congratulations!

  5. You really don't have to persuade me to make chocolate syrup... but you've done a fine job here! Heck, I'd make it explicitly to go in my coffee!

  6. I have all the ingredients! I love homemade fudge sauce and this sounds and looks great.

  7. I'm very late on this apparently :). I just wanted to say thanks for this post.
    I have a corn allergy and look all over for many corn free recipies, so I can eat as normally as possible. I have made my own chocolate sauce, ironically it is the same recipe for hot chocoalte on the back of the Hershey's cocoa box.(sans the milk.)
    It's a bit thin, so I'm very happy to find this, so I can make a thicker syrup for the kids to put on their ice cream.
    I also wanted to throw in, that I make my own vanilla extract (even organic extracts use corn alcohol, so I have to use potato vodka.), and it really brings out a nice flavor in my chocolate sauce.
    If you haven't already made it, google homemade vanilla extract. It's easy, lasts forever and the taste is amazing you will LOVE it.

  8. Annemarie, thanks!! Since this post, I have made the syrup again using 'natural' process cocoa instead of the 'dutched' cocoa I was getting in the bulk bins at my food co-op. I don't know if the make-up of the chocolate mattered, but I had no crystallization issues when I used the natural process cocoa. I used my local brand (a Milwaukee company that sources cocoa in Africa), Omahene - and I'll never make it any other way. I also used raw sugar, and the flavor is out of this world!!

    I did try making vanilla extract once, but maybe didn't have enough beans in the booze... You convince me to give it another go!!

  9. Anyone know if this sauce can be sealed? Looks like a winner for Christmas gifts...

  10. Thank you so much for this recipe! My son was recently diagnosed with a corn allergy and he loves his chocolate milk. TruMoo advertises "no corn syrup" but it still has corn starch in it. So I promised to find a way to make corn free syrup. I made up a batch of your recipe in 15 mins. It was DELICIOUS and brought a huge smile to a 5 yr old boy's face! I'm anxious to see how it stores. Does it seperate, crystalize, etc.

  11. Thanks for the kind words, Stacie! I've actually had it crystallize a little, and also had many times when it hasn't crystallized at all... I suspect it may have something to do with if I use dutched or natural cocoa powder, but I can't really say why. Even if a few crystals form, it doesn't bother me, or stop us from enjoying it! If I am giving it as a gift, I sterilize the jar first - I think it lasts even longer that way. (I sterilize in boiling water for 10 minutes or on a sheet pan in a 250 degree oven for a half hour or so if I have a number of jars.)


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