If you order a sundae with hot fudge and get thin chocolate syrup, you'll certainly know the difference. Syrups are typically runnier than hot fudge and may, but not always, have a weaker chocolate flavor. Chocolate syrup pours easily from a bottle and mixes readily into cool items like milk. Fudge sauce is usually thick, especially at room temperature, and often offers a more intense flavor than chocolate sauce. Heating fudge sauce to create "hot fudge" makes it pourable and offers a pleasing textural and temperature contrast to cooler items, such as cakes or ice cream.
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Chocolate syrup usually consists of unsweetened cocoa powder, corn syrup or cane sugar, water and other flavorings. The thicker consistency and richer flavor of hot fudge results from a list of ingredients that includes cream, sugar, bittersweet chocolate or cocoa, butter and vanilla. Both are available commercially, but making either at home is relatively easy.