A deliciously easy (and economical) way to sweeten homemade iced coffee, lattes, and a variety of other drinks and desserts. For basic simple syrup, simply omit the vanilla.
Have you ever added sugar to a glass of iced tea, stirred vigorously to dissolve it, only to find a puddle of semi-dissolved granules at the bottom of the glass? The same goes for making lemonade and a variety of other cold beverages and cocktails.
Happily, there’s a simple solution.
And it’s called simple for a reason! Simple syrup is nothing more than equal parts of two basic ingredients – sugar and water. It’s super easy to make and has the potential to elevate drinks and desserts in a way that plain old sugar can’t.
This liquified version of sugar has the same sweetness as granulated sugar, and it’s the secret ingredient in the best cold beverages, from lemonade to Mojitos: it’s far easier to incorporate the syrup because the granules have already been dissolved.
By adding one basic flavor – in this case vanilla – to what, in its basic form, is an indispensable ingredient for lemonade, ice tea, and cocktail making, the uses for the syrup expand. Suddenly, coffeehouse-worthy lattes and iced coffees are within reach, and without the unnatural taste of many bottled varieties.
Simple syrup, whether flavored or not, can also be used to add moisture to layer cakes – simply brush over the surface after baking. The vanilla-flavored syrup will further enhance the taste of baked goods that already carry the vanilla flavor.
Additionally, simple syrup works well in dressings and vinaigrettes that require a bit of sweetener and are ideal when you want some sweetness with a neutral flavor. I.e., you’re not seeking out the more robust flavor of a liquid sweetener like honey or maple syrup and you don’t have agave syrup on hand.
So think of simple syrup in the following ways:
- No grittiness: simple syrup will incorporate easily into cold beverages, dressings, etc.
- It offers the most neutral sweet flavor profile in liquid form.
- It’s easy – just two ingredients.
- It’s versatile. Vanilla or another flavoring of choice may be added.
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- 1 cup (237g) water
- 1 cup (192g) sugar
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) pure vanilla extract
Bring the water and sugar (the vanilla is added later) to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Continue to cook at a rapid simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 8-9 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and cool to room temperature. Transfer to a glass jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate.
Storage: The syrup will keep in the refrigerator for 4 weeks or more. Eventually, the sugar may begin to crystalize on the side and/or bottom of the jar or bottle (the stirring from regular use tends to prevent this), but the taste will still be fine.
Recipe first published April 13, 2016