With the recent craze of
celebrity bartenders ’mixologists’, simple syrup or sugar syrup is showing up in a lot of specialty cocktail recipes. Simple syrup is exactly what it purports: simple and syrup. It is a cooked solution of water and sugar (and sometimes glucose to prevent crystallization). Southerners are familiar with simple syrup for making sweet tea – it’s definitely different than just stirring some sugar into your iced tea. I often will use simple syrups to help flavor and moisten cake layers before frosting. Try brushing a little cardamom infused simple syrup on your favorite cake layers before frosting for an elevated, sophisticated taste!
The ratio of water to sugar varies wildly depending on who you’re talking to and it’s intended use. Most commonly it is a 1:1 ratio slowly cooked and simmered for a couple minutes until the sugar dissolves. Once cooled, the syrup can be stored in the fridge in a tighlty sealed clean glass jar for up to a month. It’s super easy to flavor – as soon as the sugar has dissolved, add your flavoring ingredient, let it cook for another minute or so, remove from the heat and let it steep for about 20 minutes; then cool, strain, and refrigerate. The 1:1 ratio of water to sugar results in about a 1 1/4 cup yield.
There’s really no limit to the ingredients you can infuse into simple syrup. Here are just a few suggestions (based on 1 cup water to 1 cup sugar):
Cinnamon – 2 or 3 cinnamon sticks
Cardamom – 1/4 green cardamom pods — makes your cakes moist and sophisticated.
Black pepper – 6 to 10 peppercorns
Ginger – 1/4 cup peeled chopped ginger
Vanilla – 1 split vanilla bean — the vanilla and ginger together are phenom!
Lavender – 1/4 cup food grade buds
Lemongrass – 1/4 chopped inner leaves
Chile – start with 1/2 to 1 chile depending on the heat — can you say Jalapeno Margarita?!
Mint or basil – 8 to 10 large leaves
Thyme or rosemary – a couple, 3 springs
Berries – 1/2 cup really very ripe fruit
Citrus – the peelings have such lovely oils. Use the zest only as the white pith can make it bitter.
Just have fun with it, and let me know your what fantastic cocktails you come up with!
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