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Mom’s chocolate sauce – The Denver Post

When I was growing up, I disliked my mother’s homemade chocolate sauce, even when she made it for special days or meals such as Valentine’s Day or one of us kids’ birthday dinners.

Sometimes it was slightly grainy, but it was always thin and matte. I realize now that I disliked it mostly because it wasn’t Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. I wanted a shiny ribbon of chocolate sauce waterfalling from that triangle in the top of the can —  just like at the soda fountain or what crackled under my teeth from the coating on the Dilly Bar at the Dairy Queen. Or basically what my friends’ moms had at their houses.

But now I love my mother’s homemade chocolate sauce just because it’s not Hershey’s. As with most foods I’ve grown to enjoy the most, her chocolate sauce is simple and real. It’s no more than cocoa powder, water, sugar and a wee smidge of salt, all melted in a pan, with some top-drawer vanilla extract added at the end.

Plus, it’s main grace is that it is so, so chocolatey, as black as a poodle’s nose, and a melted memory of Belgium, from where my mother came.

If I want it shimmering and shiny, like Hershey’s, I add a knob of unsalted butter. But to be honest — like the sauce — the butter isn’t really for the shine; it’s for the butter.

(You may make an approximation of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup by following my mother’s recipe, but substitute for the cane sugar one cup each of brown sugar and Karo clear corn syrup; add an ounce of chopped up bittersweet chocolate; and add a half teaspoon of instant coffee powder.)

Here’s my mother’s chocolate sauce recipe. It’s from memory but I’ve tested it and it is as I remember it.


  • 1 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except the vanilla extract. Over medium heat, whisk until beginning to melt and then stir, slowly and almost constantly, until the sauce begins to bubble at the edges.

Lower the heat and stir occasionally while the sauce simmers slowly for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool a bit.

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