March 16, 2013

Mock mocha frap and homemade chocolate syrup

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
I sure hope Starbucks feels that way because I want to talk about a homemade version of my favorite frozen coffee beverage: the Mocha Frappuccino®.  I call it my "mock frap".  It's not exactly Starbucks, of course, but it is very close and totally delicious!  Warm weather - and even summer - will be here eventually and I plan to put my blender to work making these, not that I haven't already!  In fact, I've been making a ton of these and saving a bundle!

Being a creature of habit and loyal to my favorite things, I usually go to Starbucks 3-4 times a week.  You're either a fan or you're not and I, personally, love Starbucks.  When I go, I order a Mocha Frappuccino® Light almost religiously.  That, and a turkey bacon sandwich, is close to an ideal breakfast for me.  Once in a blue moon, I might go "wild" and order a cappuccino or a plain coffee, maybe even a hot chocolate, but the mocha frap light has been my drink for years and something I want even during the frigid winter months.  Given how much I love chocolate, it's probably not surprising that I favor the combination of chocolate and coffee in this thick, cold, drinkable form.
Homemade! A ham & fried egg sandwich is my favorite but I also like a simple english muffin with peanut-butter (or Nutella) in the morning
The only downside to my love of those fraps is, well, the cost.  Throwing down almost five bucks for a coffee drink is a pretty steep way to start the day.  When I got a blender this past Christmas (yes, I am the girl who actually wants the toaster and blender for Christmas!), making a mock version of my favorite mocha beverage was something I wanted to try. 

Honestly, I did not expect to like the homemade version.  I thought I'd try it once to satisfy my curiosity and that would probably be that.  That's pretty much what happened with my bubble tea DIY project (though I should probably re-visit that).  So you can imagine my surprise when I tried this and it turned out to be really, really well!
Major difference between this and the real thing is I'm not using Starbucks syrup so the flavor is a little different.  I think it tastes great, just not identical to Starbucks.  With homemade, I think you can taste the coffee more distinctly.  If you want to get even closer to the real thing, Starbucks actually sells a mocha powder that I assume is used for the mocha frap. 

Texturally, the homemade version isn't quite as thick and does tend to separate.  If you want to fix that, I hear that adding some dry pectin or a pinch of xantham gum will do the trick.  I haven't tried that since I'm inclined to keep it as "pure" as possible (I'm no expert on xantham gum beyond knowing it's a thickener and often used in gluten-free baking and packaged foods).  I also don't mind just stirring it up, and since I drink mine pretty quickly, I'm not too concerned about it separating.  I like mine "light", using skim milk, but you could use any kind of milk you want (I like 1% milk also).
I started this with a homemade chocolate syrup.  Does that sound like too much work already?  It's really not.  All it takes to make a homemade chocolate syrup is unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar, a pinch of salt, water, and a dash of vanilla extract.  Stir and bring it to a boil and you have syrup to stock away in your fridge for this mock-frap or for chocolate milk, chocolate milk shakesegg creams, and what have you!

If you're not sold on the idea, just use store-bought chocolate syrup!

To make the mock-frap is simply a matter of throwing some brewed coffee (I've even used instant!), a bit of the chocolate syrup, sugar, milk, and ice into a blender.  A blitz and then pour it into your waiting glass and enjoy!
With a little advance planning (i.e., chocolate syrup and some brewed coffee in the fridge), it's really easy to whip up one or a few of these.  In the last couple of weeks, I've saved quite a few dollars and trips to Starbucks.  That said, however, Starbucks doesn't have to worry about losing my business entirely.  There's no denying the convenience of having someone else do the work.  More importantly, I enjoy sitting down at a local Starbucks with my husband or a good friend, just catching up and having a drink and a snack.  I love that Starbucks brought a bit of that cafe culture to America.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup:

First, I want to say that a container of homemade chocolate syrup now holds a permanent spot in my refrigerator. 

I've made quick chocolate syrup before for egg creams, which my family and I love, and this is essentially the same thing in a larger batch.  I really started thinking about making homemade syrup a few months back when I considered making a chocolate mint bar recipe that called for a cup of Hershey's chocolate syrup.  No offense against Hershey's or any other store-bought chocolate syrup but the idea of making my own, without any preservative or unrecognizable ingredients, was very appealing.  I haven't gotten around to that chocolate mint bar recipe yet but one day...
Long story short, making chocolate syrup only takes a few minutes and a few ingredients.  You literally just bring a mixture of unsweetened cocoa, sugar, a dash of salt, and water to a boil, cook it for another minute, and add a touch of vanilla extract at the end.  That's it! 

I've tried making the syrup with two kinds of cocoa so far.  For my first batch, I used Valhrona because I thought it would give me a deep, pure chocolate flavor.  I usually bake with Pernigotti cocoa and tried that in my second batch.  I liked the one with Pernigotti better because it's a tad sweeter, more reminiscient of store-bought chocolate syrup, which works well for this purpose.  The cocoa you use will affect the taste of the syrup and the drink so use what you like or experiment a little to find out.
The chocolate syrup will thicken further once chilled.  Store your homemade chocolate syrup in a container with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator, ready for a "mock frap" any time.

Other uses for homemade chocolate syrup:

1. Stir a couple of tablespoons into milk for chocolate milk

2. Make chocolate egg creams

3. Make chocolate milk shakes by blitzing vanilla ice cream, a couple tablespoons of this chocolate syrup, and milk in the blender

4. Make a cocoa-frap (i.e., skip the coffee)!  If you have a child who stares down your drink and repeatedly asks for some, try making the drink without the coffee!  It's basically an iced-up chocolate milk.  I did it for my son and he enjoyed it.

5. Think of it as chocolate "sauce" and drizzle it over ice cream or any other dessert that could benefit from it (there are lots of possibilities!)

(So far, I've done all the above with happy results!)

6. Stir a couple of tablespoons into hot milk for hot chocolate

7. Take a shot of espresso, a couple tablespoons of chocolate syrup, then add hot or steamed milk for a cup of caffe mocha (make it cold and turn it into a iced caffe mocha)

...I'm sure you're more creative than I am and could come up with more ideas...

Mock Mocha Frap:

Now on to the drink! 

I'm pretty sure the Starbucks frap is coffee as opposed to espresso based.  Their caffe mocha, made with a shot of espresso, is a little too strong for me.  So when I went looking for a homemade frap recipe, I went with a coffee based one.

For this homemade version of my favorite Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino®, you'll need (in addition to a blender):

- Chilled, brewed coffee (*see below)
- Chocolate syrup
- Sugar
- Skim milk (low-fat, whole, or any other kind of milk)
- Ice

* Recipes often say to use "strong" coffee, as in the kind brewed with 2 tablespoons of ground coffee per cup.  In my experience, I didn't think ultra strong coffee was necessary.  But that's me and I'm definitely on the more-chocolate as opposed to more-coffee side of the equation.
I've used brewed coffee as well as instant in the form of Starbucks VIA and their Iced VIA because I happen to have them around the house (obviously not as cost efficient).  Maybe because I use Starbucks coffee in all these cases, the drinks tasted about the same to me, maybe with the freshly brewed edging out just a little.  If you use the Iced VIA, you will not need additional sugar (or just a little bit) since it's already lightly sweetened.  

If you're like me and don't make coffee regularly, make extra when you do (say, on the weekend) and stock it away for the next few days.  I've taken to storing a glass container of brewed coffee in my fridge (you need 6 tablespoons per 16 ounce drink) along with the chocolate syrup.  That way, I can whip up a mocha frap in minutes throughout the week.

Just throw everything into the blender and blitz it up!
Play around with it a bit to get it just right for you.  Try it with different kinds of milk, adjust the amount of sugar and chocolate syrup you use.  I tend to go a little heavy on the chocolate syrup and lighter on the sugar.  And after a few practice trials, I think I've figured out what I like best and I am very happy sipping away at my homemade mocha frap!  I really don't miss the "real" thing at all.

And you know the best part about the homemade version?  You get to drink it all instead of seeing the barista pour the extra down the drain!  Doesn't it pain you to see all that waste every time they do that? 

Boy, am I happy I got a blender for Christmas!!

* Update: I've been making and enjoying these regularly since I posted this.  I mentioned that I'd read that adding some dry pectin or xantham gum is supposed to keep the drink from separating.  Well, I tried pectin and it did not work and seemed to add a slightly off taste to the drink.  I believe xantham gum is flavorless and frequently used in cold beverages (it's listed as an ingredient in drinks like the frappuccino) so I suspect that might be the way to go but I've yet to try it.

* Update #2: I've now tried adding a pinch of xantham gum to the frappucino after finding small packets of it for sale at a supermarket.  It does make for a thicker, smoother frappucino.  In other words, the texture becomes very similar to what you get at the coffee house.  And there is no aftertaste.  


Homemade Mocha Frappuccino®
Recipe adapted from many, like this one

- For one 16-ounce drink -

6 tablespoons brewed, chilled coffee*
1/2 cup milk (I use skim for mocha frap light; you can any kind of milk)
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup (recipe follows; or use store-bought)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar (or to taste; I use a minimal amount)
1 cup ice
Optional: a pinch of xantham gum will make for a thicker texture and keeps the drink from separating

* Strong coffee is typically recommended (2 tablespoons of ground coffee per cup) but I think it's fine to use regular coffee as you prefer it.  I have used freshly brewed coffee as well as instant with good results.

Place all the ingredients into your blender and blend until smooth.  Serve immediately.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup
Recipe via Glorious Treats, who sources it to a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (there are some good recipes from those old books!)

- Approximately 2 cups - 
You might consider dividing the recipe in half at first and experimenting with different cocoa powders to see which one you like best

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar (After making a few batches, I now use 1 1/3 cups sugar)
Pinch of salt
1 cup water
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract*

* I like to use Pernigotti cocoa powder, which already contains vanilla, so I add a bit less vanilla extract.  You can adjust this to taste.

Whisk cocoa powder, sugar, and salt together in a small saucepan.  Add water and whisk lightly to combine.  Cook mixture over medium heat and bring it to a boil, gently whisking occasionally.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 more minute.  Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. 

Let cool and store the chocolate syrup in a container with a tight fitting lid, in the refrigerator.  Since there is no dairy in it, it should keep in the refrigerator for quite a while (i.e., months).


  1. thx for the best sunday-coffee. Greetings from Wrocław :)

  2. Greetings, Iwona; thank you for saying hello! Is it terrible I had to look up where Wroclaw is?! Great to "meet" you. Happy Sunday and enjoy your coffee. : )

  3. This looks awesome! I always see recipes for homemade coffee drinks that require espresso...some people may have an espresso machine in the house, but I certainly don't! Great to see one that works with regular coffee! :)

  4. Hi Sara - I am so with you about espresso. I'm clueless when it comes to that (and not very good at making coffee either) so I usually shy away from anything requiring it. You know this drink is easy if even I can do it!

    When I made tiramisu recently, I used instant espresso powder. It worked really well since I'm not enough of an espresso connouseiur to know the difference and I'm going with that from now on. : )

  5. It's nice to see this! I have tried Starbucks a few times (although never since I moved out to Starbucks land) and it always makes me sick because they use espresso in many drinks. It's great to see a version that uses regular coffee!

  6. This is a great mock frap and since I love frap's so much I can't wait to make this out. I always order them at Starbucks in the summer but it add's up in price!!

  7. Alyssa - that is so ironic (and typical) that you don't go to Starbucks living in Seattle! I guess espresso is too strong for some of us...I can't drink it straight-up. Maybe it's best we just reserve it for desserts. : )

  8. Hi Natalie! The fraps are definitely my weakness (even in the winter), that's why I'm SO excited I can make it at home now!

  9. Mocha Frappuccinos are my son's favorite summer Starbucks drink. He will appreciate saving money with this recipe. Thanks!

  10. Hi Wendy - I think I'm in the minority in drinking these fraps even in the winter. I knew I had to give the homemade version a go and I'm sure glad I did!

  11. oohhhhhh, Monica, you can't tell me how to make these myself. this will be an issue. :) a good issue, but's like telling me how to make homemade snickers bars. Dangerous.

  12. Monica, this looks SO much better than anything I could get at Starbucks. I only wish I could drink caffeine! Saving this for post-baby. Thank you so much for sharing with us!

  13. beautiful photos! I love homemade coffee drinks, so much cheaper and in my opinion - much tastier than anything you can get at a cafe or a Starbucks. Yours looks wonderful!

  14. Hi Shannon - you cracked me up! These fraps are one thing I'm not willing to give up. I'm hooked! I know it means a couple extra tablespoons of sugar but I stick with skim or low-fat milk and I don't use whipped cream so it's totally light! (I hope that was convincing enough!)

    Thank you, Sally!

    Hi Monet - Congratulations on the upcoming baby!! How exciting! Thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind words. I don't know if I dare to say this is *better* than the real thing but it definitely hits the spot. I have not bought one in weeks!

  15. Mmmmmm!!! I make homemade Fraps all the time, but I never get the proportions right. Yours looks much better. I'll have to try it out! Don't know if I have it in me to make homemade chocolate syrup though ;)

  16. Hi Amy, I tinker with it a little (a bit more chocolate syrup, a little less sugar) but if you try the proportions, I'd love to know what you think. You should/can absolutely just use storebought syrup but I'm seriously not looking back! Homemade is really easy (really just need cocoa) and tastes great. : )

  17. Hehee I love your "Mock" mocha frap! I'd need this once in a while to give me some sugar in the afternoon... I need to try mock version to save money! :D I might end up drinking everyday. ;)

  18. Nami, I'm really saving a lot of money because, like I said, I've been hooked on these things! And we all need a little pick-me-up in the afternoon! : )

  19. I love the Mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks too. But have to agree with you...they are quite expensive to enjoy on a regular basis. I really love your homemade version and the homemade chocolate syrup. Can't wait to give them a try.

  20. Hello! I just stumbled upon your blog! Lovely recipe, can't wait to try the homemade chocolate syrup! I'll be trying this soon, it's way too expensive to buy all the time! After all, the best things in life are free ;)

    Come check me out at

    xx gemma

  21. Hi there, Gemma! Glad you found me and thanks for reaching out. Do try the chocolate syrup...I am loving it and plan to keep my fridge stocked! I'll be happy to stop by your blog.

    Thanks, Amy! I love when a DIY project pans out like this one. Whenever I thought about how much was spending on the fraps, I cringed so this is great for me! : )

  22. Thank you, Julie. Thanks for stopping by!

  23. Thank to you, I'd be saving a lot of my moolah away from Starbucks by making this yummy recipe. The husband is sure to love it!!

  24. Thanks, Kiran! I have been happily saving a bundle! : )



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