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Cooking QA

Q: Why do chocolate ice cream recipes call for cocoa and real chocolate? Why can’t you just use chocolate syrup?

A: For the answer, I turned to a real ice cream expert, author Bruce Weinstein.

Weinstein and his partner, Mark Scarborough, have written a long list of cookbooks, including "The Ultimate Ice Cream Book" with more than 500 recipes. It came out in 1999, but it’s still in print and Weinstein says it has sold more than a quarter-million copies.

So, why can’t you just squirt chocolate syrup into your ice cream recipe? "Because of all the water," Weinstein says. "The first ingredient in chocolate syrup is water." You’ll not only dilute the flavor, you’ll also dilute the fat that gives ice cream its creaminess and you’ll end up with a mixture that is unpleasantly icy.

Besides the water issues, Weinstein says, chocolate syrup isn’t concentrated enough to give you great chocolate flavor. Remember, cold makes things more difficult to taste, which is why ice cream mixtures usually have larger amounts of flavorings like vanilla extract.

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All of that is before you even talk about the quality of the chocolate. Weinstein says the chocolate used in a product like chocolate syrup is usually the lowest quality to begin with.

"The reason recipes call for home cooks to use real chocolate and cocoa is the concentrated flavor and the purity," he says. Chocolate syrup is fine for drizzling, but make the ice cream underneath as good as it can be.

— McClatchy Newspapers

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