Simple syrup is appropriately named. The basic stuff is nothing more than sugar and water boiled together until the sugar is dissolved, creating a sweet, sticky substance (syrup!) with hundreds of uses. You can make it thicker or thinner, add virtually any flavor you desire and use it in practically any recipe.
Choosing the Right Thickness
Determining how syrupy your syrup should be depends on how you plan to use it. If you plan to whip up a glaze for baked goods, stick with a thinner mix of one part sugar to three parts water. A medium syrup of one part sugar to two parts water is perfect for sweetening beverages or making cocktails. Make a super-thick syrup with equal parts sugar and water if you want to make candied fruits or rich ice cream toppings.
Use superfine sugar over your typical granulated variety, if you can find it, as it dissolves much more quickly and easily. Stores sometimes market it as baker's sugar. Look for it near the brown sugar and powdered sugar packages.
Make It Fruity
One way to concoct flavorful syrup is by incorporating fruit to the mix. Clean, pit and de-stem the fruit, and mash it in a pot. Boil the mashed fruit with your water and sugar mixture just as you would if you were making run of the mill simple syrup. When it is ready, push it through a sieve to filter out unwanted pulp and seeds.
This is an awesome way to make the best-ever pancake syrup in berry flavors, such as strawberry or blueberry. If you do, go with the method for the thickest syrup. You might opt to leave some of the fruit bits in as well.
Aside from fruit, there are loads of spices, seasonings and extras you can add to your syrup to make a variety of options for all of your toppings, fillings and bases.
One way to infuse flavors is to add the ingredient to the syrup after it has been boiled but while it is still hot:
- Add anything from ginger shavings to zest from lemon, orange or lime peels to vanilla beans to a variety of fresh herbs to the hot syrup.
- Allow it to steep like you would tea. In fact, tucking the extras into an infuser or wrapping them in cheesecloth to infuse them lets you extract the flavor without introducing unwanted bits into the syrup.
- Allow the mixture to steep at least a few hours; letting them stand overnight will provide an even more intense flavor.
You can also introduce flavors to your syrup using extracts. Dig through your cupboards to see what you can find. Stir in a bit of any extract from mild vanilla or almond to fun flavors like root beer or anise once the finished syrup has cooled. A good rule of thumb is one teaspoon of extract for each cup of syrup solution.
Use your custom syrup to devise your new signature cocktail. Mix it with plain seltzer water for unique DIY sodas. Or drizzle it over fruit salad or a slice of cake.
What flavor of simple syrup would you make, and how would you use it? Share your ideas in the comments!
Cocktails with Simple Syrup