Forget fake chocolate syrup. Learn how to make chocolate sauce with real chocolate.
Whether as a topping for ice cream, cake or even a chocolate dessert, a fine chocolate sauce can be the finishing touch that takes an ordinary dessert and makes it extraordinary.
What Kind of Chocolate to Use
Chocolate sauces can be made from milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate, depending on the taste you’re going for. What’s important is that it is high-quality chocolate. A chocolate sauce will only be as good as the quality of chocolate used to make it.
Fine chocolate has a rich, deep flavor and smooth texture on the tongue. The surface of fine quality chocolate looks shiny, implying it was prepared using the proper temperature and time, and snaps crisply when broken into pieces. Use chocolate that contains at least 50% cocoa. The finer the chocolate, the finer the chocolate sauce.
Chocolate Sauce vs. Ganache
A ganache is actually a type of chocolate sauce made with chocolate and cream (and of course sugar) as its prime ingredients.
Chocolate Sauce vs. Hot Fudge
Hot fudge sauce is not actually a kind of chocolate sauce, ganache or otherwise, but rather a sugar syrup to which chocolate is added.
Basic Chocolate Sauce
Beyond the chocolate, cream and sugar in the standard ganache, other ingredients a chocolate sauce might contain include butter, evaporated milk, cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla extract and liquor or liqueur like Brandy, Gran Manier or Kahlua. For a hazelnut flavored chocolate sauce add a bit of Nutella and/or some Frangelico liqueur.
There are two common ways to make a basic chocolate sauce. In one method, you melt the chocolate in a double boiler. In the other method, you combine the milk or cream, sugar and butter in a saucepan and heat it to a rolling boil before removing it from the heat to add in the chocolate. In both cases, the chocolate is not directly exposed to the heat in order to prevent burning.
When heating chocolate and the other ingredients in the sauce, stir (and watch) it constantly to prevent burning. The chocolate, dairy, sugar and butter in chocolate sauce can all burn, any one of which will ruin the flavor of the sauce, so it pays to pay close attention as you heat these ingredients. The best utensil to use for stirring these ingredients is a whisk rather than a spoon. The whisk will help you make the sauce smooth and smooth any lumps.
Let the chocolate sauce cool a bit before serving to help it thicken. If it gets too thick, stir in more milk or cream. Unused chocolate sauce should be stored in the refrigerator, where it can last several weeks. Simply reheat before serving.