While not a dessert in and of itself, syrups are a delicious accompaniment to many sweet treats. From classic caramel syrup over vanilla ice cream to homemade maple syrup to exotic fruit blends combined into refreshing drinks, chilly ices or elegant desserts, syrup is a versatile accessory to many dishes.
The basic syrup recipe is simply a thick mixture of sugar, water and flavoring. The term "simple syrup" refers to the sugar and water base, without flavoring; many cooks prefer to make larger quantities of simple syrup that can be divided into many different flavors for different dishes. It can be used in a variety of ways, including:
- Flavoring lemonades, fruit juices, and tropical drinks with or without alcohol
- As a unique sundae or ice cream topping
- As a sweet alternative to heavy cake frostings and icing
- Garnishing plates for cake, fruit salad or gourmet dishes
- To freeze or poach fruit with complementary flavors
- Creating snow cones or other ice treats
Simple Syrup Recipe
Use this syrup as a base for desserts, mojitos, or as a pancake topping. To make mock maple syrup, substitute the sugar for brown sugar and add a teaspoon of maple flavor to the finished syrup.
- 2 cups white or raw sugar
- 1 cup water
- Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan.
- Pour the sugar into the pan.
- Bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring so the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Allow to cool.
The syrup can be stored in a tightly sealed, refrigerated bottle for up to 6 months.
Fruit syrups can be made by either adding fruit juice to a simple recipe, or by cooking ripe fruit with sugar and water. Fruit syrups can be made out of any fruit, but the ones that work best include:
The softer the fruit, the easier time you'll have getting a thick syrup from it.
Fruit Syrup Recipe
This is a thick recipe; if using a hard fruit like apples or a stringy fruit like oranges, strain the end product for a thinner syrup.
- 1 cup ripe fruit, diced or cut into small pieces
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- Place all three ingredients in a saucepan and heat to boiling.
- Mash the fruit into the sugar and water as it boils.
- Continue cooking until you get a thick mixture.
- Pour the contents of the pan into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Chocolate syrup is easy to make, and allows for endless flavor combinations. Create a syrup that is a mixture of chocolate and fruit, chocolate and mint, chocolate and malt or other delicious chocolate combinations. Homemade chocolate syrup is an inexpensive alternative to store bought kinds, and doesn't use ingredients like high fructose corn syrup as its base.
Use chocolate syrup as a pancake topping, mixed with milk, or as a drizzle over pies and ice cream.
Chocolate Syrup Recipe
Use this simple recipe as a base for other flavors.
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- Heat the water in a pan and add the cocoa powder.
- Stir well to dissolve.
- Add the sugar and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Boil for three minutes, and then remove from heat.
- Add the salt and vanilla and allow it to cool.
Store in a tightly sealed, refrigerated jar for up to 6 months.
The Key to Syrup Recipes
The key step in recipes for syrup involves boiling sugar, so great care must be taken to prevent scorching; stir the mixture continuously. Do not skimp on heating time or temperature, since the sugar may not dissolve completely if adjustments are made. Some recipes call for using Karo or corn syrup instead of granulated sugar because it is already a liquid sweetener; be sure to use appropriate proportions and treat the mixture just as carefully. Hot sugar mixtures can splatter and cause serious burns, so do not let children participate in making the syrup. For a more fluid mixture, add additional water; reduce the water proportion for dense syrup to use as a topping or icing. Don't be timid about experimenting with new flavors and alternative combinations to create your own signature blend.