Chocolate Syrup

Chocolate Sauce photo by DavidI was enormously flattered back in the 1980’s to learn that my friend David had included jars of my chocolate syrup in his Armageddon aftermath hideout provisions. This is quite logical, of course, since it would be an excellent source of carbohydrates (which meats do not provide, witness the Donner Party) or, if need be, a good barter item.

This chocolate syrup has been the source of many fine memories, perhaps the fondest of these being that of giving my friend Robin her first jar when we were at Bayard Systems and watching a look of low cunning cross her face as she grabbed a gummed label and wrote “Hot Chile Sauce” on it. Later, she confessed to putting the jar into the back of the refrigerator at home and taking clandestine spoon hits out of it until, when she had nearly finished it, her teenage son came sock-footing into the kitchen and caught her in front of the refrigerator with the jar in her left hand and the spoon, in her mouth, in the right.


8 oz. excellent cocoa.

I’ve used every cocoa I could get my hands on, including some like Cadbury’s “Drinking Chocolate” (sold mostly in England) and Scharffen Berger that are not Dutched, i.e. alkali processed, and retain all that cocoa butter often removed during the Dutch process. I used Droste for years. Then forty or so years ago the San Francisco Chronicle had one of their blind tasting reports in the food section. The winning cocoa was Nestlé, defeating contenders such as Droste that cost over twice as much. And these were supposedly especially fussy gourmets, so I tried the Nestlé. It was different, and somehow I convinced myself it was better. But later, I kept running across all these pricey gourmet cocoas…and experimenting with them…and had to admit that some of these new flavor subtleties were quite nice, a conclusion reached decades ago by the later, more discerning panelists for the Chronicle food tasting columns. Just to make sure I never made the same sauce twice, I experimented for a while with combinations of cocoas, e.g. ½ Scharffen Berger and ½ Droste.

Cocoas I remember using: Ahlaska [sic], Arriba (an Ecuadorian varietal that’s 22% cocoa butter), Blooker, Cadbury, Callebaut, Dagoba, Droste, Equal Exchange, Ghirardelli, Guittard (“Old Dutch Medium Process 24% cocoa butter”), Hershey’s, Lake Champlain, Navitas (a raw Peruvian powder) Nestlé, Peet’s, Rainbow Grocery bulk (which is not Dutched), Rapunzel, Scharffen Berger, Schokinag, Valrhona, Van Houten, and Wondercocoa (in spite of its insipid name and being 99% fat-free, pretty good stuff). Of these, my overall favorite is the Callebaut (available only by mail to the best of my knowledge, where the best buy by far is the 5 kg bag.  Hey, that’s only 11 lbs.). As of 1990 my second favorites are, in this order, Valrhona, Droste, Guittard, Scharffen Berger, Equal Exchange, and Arriba although i expect that the new owner of Scharffen Berger, Hershey’s, has degraded the product to fatten the profits.  Equal Exchange is an east coast company specializing in fair traded coffee and chocolate, a system in which the growers supposedly get a higher percentage of the money. The cocoa itself is made in the Netherlands and is excellent. Valrhona is the finest grind I have ever found. Like weapons-grade anthrax, it’s so fine that you get a great cloud of dust when you pour it into the pot. This is not really a plus, but the taste is up there in my favorites.

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, well chopped.

In the spring of 2018 i found a source for 5 kg. slabs of Callebaut solid chocolate, 100% chocolate with no sugar added.  Yes, that’s an impressive block, and even though it cost $91, that works out to $8-something a pound, which is way cheaper than any high quality retail bar.  I’d earlier found 5 kg. bags of Callebaut’s cocoa powder, so now it’s possible to make a chocolate syrup with only Callebaut chocolate.  The chocolate syrup was always popular, but now people are purring and rubbing themselves against my leg for it.

10 c. sugar, 8 white and 2 brown.

1 t. salt.

½ c. maple syrup.

Yes, the secret ingredient. Other times, I use agave nectar. I’ve also used honey or a quarter cup of unsulfured molasses (not blackstrap! and if you don’t have molasses in your pantry, you can just up the percentage of brown sugar). Anything to add a hint of mystery flavor. My latest brainstorm for mystery flavor is one level teaspoon of Hatch chile powder from New Mexico.    At that level, the chile is undetectable for people who eat peppers in their food, and the others, poor things, can barely taste it and then usually only after you’d told ’em about it.  This is by no means “Mexican” chocolate with a lot of chile taste up front, but that spoonful of chile powder serves to brighten up all the other flavors.  I’m adding it to all batches now, and you really ought to try this, perhaps starting with ½ t.  If you were going to make Mexican chocolate sauce, you’d need to use several teaspoons of chile powder and half as many teaspoons of cinnamon.

5 c. water.

I have my water piped in from a despoiled valley in Yosemite, of which I have an Ansel Adams “before” photo in my kitchen to keep me properly appreciative.


Very large, heavy pot, as for pasta.

A wooden spoon long enough to stir the full pot without getting the boiling syrup on you. Not a fun burn.


Put a number (depends on size) of clean glass jars and their sealable lids in a 225º F. oven to sterilize. I don’t know why I didn’t think of doing this sooner. It’s so much easier than boiling the jars in water.  My preferred container now is the 9.5 oz bottles in which Starbucks’s Frappucino Light® is sold.  I quite enjoy drinking that stuff if cut with half black coffee, so i’m getting the bottles almost for free.

Thoroughly mix the dry ingredients. To facilitate this, I dump the cocoa (but not, of course, the chopped solid chocolate), sugars, salt, and chile powder through a giant sieve that just happens to fit perfectly atop my pot , mix well, and then throw in the chopped solid chocolate. The pot must be TALL because when the stuff boils, it quadruples in volume and will make a truly astonishing mess as it boils over onto the stove top, part running down into the burner well plugging the gas and air vents and the remainder cascading over the edge of the stove onto the floor, seeking crannies as it cools and hardens.

Mix in the liquid sweeteners, if any, well. Then add the water slowly, first using one cup to try to make a paste as you stir constantly over high heat. Then add another cup of water to get a thick paste, turn the heat to medium, and continue stirring until the mass is truly homogeneous.  You do not want any little bits of the solid chocolate to remain unmelted before you add the rest of the water.

Stir occasionally, until the mass comes to a boil and suddenly increases its size. Reduce heat and boil 15 minutes, stirring fairly frequently and adjusting the heat so that you are keeping the syrup at a good boil but still inside the pot.

Let the boiling subside and then pour the very hot syrup into the hot jars and quickly screw the lids on, leaving enough head space for the jars to seal as they cool. Being a big sissy, I cheat and use hotpads to handle the jars.

The little safety buttons poinking down during the cooling process is a wonderful sound to hear from the kitchen for an hour or two after you’ve jarred stuff.


The uses for this syrup are myriad, and I leave it to the readers to find them. The obvious ones are to make hot chocolate and to pour over French vanilla ice cream, and a version flavored with a few teaspoons of chile powder is sublime this way since the ice cream somehow cuts the “hotness” of the chile powder. Just in case you didn’t think of this one, the syrup can be mixed with about three times as much mascarpone and this mixture transported directly into the mouth with a spoon…for testing. If there’s any left after the tests, it can be used in various desserts.  Finally, I particularly like it administered supralingually with an eyedropper.


Keeps a long time without refrigeration, since there’s nothing in there that will readily spoil. I used to put it in the refrigerator after I’d opened it but I knew in my heart that this was just American spoilage hysteria, so I started just leaving it on the counter.  Once in the half century that i’ve been making this syrup has a jar got mold on the top surface.  Play the odds yourself.

What to do with the pot after you’ve poured the last of the syrup out? Pour in a glassful or two of milk and stir like mad with that big wooden spoon, kicking milk up on the sides of the pot until you have the chef’s reward: a glass or two of delicious chocolate milk. Fringe benefit: this halfway cleans the pot.

Late note:  Until I discovered in September 2020 that this product is a syrup rather than a sauce, I was calling it a sauce, which it isn’t because it contains pretty much nothing but water, sugar, and chocolate.  You can go blind and crazy trying to find a precise definition of the difference between a sauce and a syrup, but the bottom line is that all syrups are sauces, but this sauce is a syrup.

Leave a comment


  1. Ellyn Bloomfield
    Posted 18 March 2014 at 18:13 | Permalink

    Your chocolate sauce could tempt the purest of angels – let alone an old devil (and chocolate lover) like myself! Shame on you – and please keep the chocolate sauces coming this way…Thank you very much.



    • Matte Gray
      Posted 18 March 2014 at 18:22 | Permalink

      Oh, you sweet thing! Comments like that guarantee you a continual supply (grin). You cannot imagine how much pleasure i get out of giving my preserves to friends…. especially those who like my stuff.

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