Friday, March 12, 2010

Homemade vs. Pre-Made: Chocolate Syrup

Like most toddlers -- who am kidding? I should say, like most people in general --- my little guy enjoys a glass of chocolate milk now and then.  I usually buy Ovaltine (just the regular chocolate kind, not the gross malt flavor) and make his chocolate milk out of that, but my grocery budget was tight this week and I didn't have the wiggle room to buy a $3 can of Ovaltine (something we like, but don't need). However, grocery budgeting is a difficult concept to explain to a three-year-old, so I decided to improvise with a recipe I've been meaning to try:  homemade chocolate sauce. 

I got this recipe from a great little cookbook called Cooking Fun: 121 Simple Recipes to Make with Kids. I love this cookbook because it is full of basics, plus I love the vintage design.  This recipe is so easy (it takes only five minutes) and I'm really pleased with the results.  Best of all, this recipe is crazy-cheap to make.

Plus, like I always mention in my 'Homemade vs. Pre-Made' posts, when you make things like this yourself, you avoid lots of 'fake food' (read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and you'll know what I mean. That book will change the way you think about food, I promise). For example, Hershey's Chocolate Syrup contains things (in addition to cocoa and sugar) like high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup (that's not an accidental repeat), potassium sorbate (a preservative), xanthan gum, polysorbate 60, and the ubiquitous ingredient called "artificial flavoring".  The recipe I'm going to share only has four ingredients, all of which I'm sure you have in your pantry right now. Now I know that choclate syrup, even if it's homemade, isn't health food, but I'd rather feed my family things I recognize and that are natural. Okay, I'm stepping off the
Chocolate Sauce
from Cooking Fun: 121 Simple Recipes to Make with Kids
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine the sugar, cocoa, and water in a medium saucepan. Turn heat on low and cook for four minutes or until thick. Whisk occasionally to smooth out lumps. Let cool, then add vanilla. Stir well. Store in a glass jar with lid.  Refrigerate. This will keep for weeks.
The recipe says that this makes about a cup of sauce; as you can see below, I nearly filled a pint-size jar. 

To make chocolate milk, simply add one tablespoon of sauce to a cup of milk. Adjust this to your own taste, whether you want it more or less chocolatey. We also tested this further and heated it up (since the boy likes hot Ovaltine) - totally works.  I'm happy to say it passed the test when my son asked for Ovaltine.  He couldn't tell that I used something different - and if even if he could, it was quite obvious that he didn't care. Mission accomplished.


Anonymous said...

Not all things with unfamiliar names are toxic, unnatural or otherwise undesirable. More specifically, don't be hatin' on xanthan gum. It's completely natural. Look it up.

More on xanthan gum: It's a great staple ingredient for gluten-free baking, so you'll see it used in a lot of gluten-free recipes. In addition, it's a basic thickener that doesn't require heat to do it's thing (like most starches do), making it ideal for cold sauces, salad dressings, etc.

And now that I'm contemplating making some chocolate syrup using your recipe, I'm going to add a smidget of xanthan gum so that mine is thicker NATURALLY. ;P

Heather said...

I guess I stand corrected on this one. Xanthan gum just didn't seem like something you could buy at the grocery store, so I jumped to conclusions. Thanks for the input.

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