The entire spectrum of childhood snacking ultimately breaks into three main categories. Ready-to-eat includes anything for purchase nationwide at groceries or chains, like Blizzards, Reese's Cups, and Pop-Tarts. Homemade encompasses things like banana bread and apple pie, which varied with each household. Finally, Some Assembly Required, snacks cobbled together from pre-existing ingredients. The most important weapon in any kid's DIY dessert arsenal? Hershey's Syrup.
Hershey's syrup enabled even the most gastronomically inept child miraculous culinary powers. With a single drizzle, a pedestrian glass of two-percent became the greatest beverage in all of kiddom: chocolate milk. Likewise, Hershey's syrup could transform a scoop of ice cream into a sundae. Even a slice of store bought angel food cake became something extraordinary when doused in Hershey's.
I have trouble imagining there existed even a single fridge in the1980s that didn't house that iconic yellow lidded can. Like some sort of cosmological constant, we could find Hershey's anywhere we could find refrigeration.
If we could define childhood as the phase of life in which anything tasty is tastier awash in chocolate syrup, then adulthood is the time when anything tasty is tastier homemade. For as with all nostalgic junk foods, the Hershey's label reads like a laundry list of shame: corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup, mono and diglycerides, vanillin and artificial flavors. Hershey's undisputedly defines the bottom of the barrel when it comes to the quality of chocolate. It has a tinny thinness and a flavor nominally chocolaty at best. And holy cow, the sweetness! The Sugar Plum Fairy would have a toothache after a spoonful.
But Hershey's did a few things exceedingly well. It has that sexy, pourable smoothness straight from the fridge. It glistens. A mere spoonful has enough strength to turn milk into sweet, chocolatey bliss. At the twirl of a spoon, Hershey's dissolves completely. It's thick, yet can flow. It drapes itself over ice cream the way Jessica Rabbit slinks across the stage.
A homemade version must do all those things too. It must keep pace with Hershey's, not outpace it. Any fool can make ganache.
Making the best chocolate syrup involves walking a fine line between excess and restraint. To make a syrup without corn syrup requires a ton of sugar. But to make a chocolate syrup, not a chocolate sauce, requires only just enough chocolate.
Of course when it comes to chocolate, you could use Hershey's cocoa and Hershey's chocolate, but who could bear the irony? No. Make real chocolate syrup with real chocolate. It will be everything you remember, the perfect sundae topping, milk's soulmate, a sauce ready to drizzle across any dessert plate.
The only thing you'll need after you make it will be a little space in your fridge door.
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About the Author: Stella Parks suffers from an unhealthy obsession with recreating the mass produced snacks of her childhood, but ironically is employed by a Frenchman to make the high brow desserts of his childhood. She blogs that dichotomy at bravetart.com and can be followed on Twitter at @thebravetart.