Made From Scratch: Vanilla Simple Syrup

I think it's fair to say that one of the things I have missed the most during this month-long unprocessed challenge is hazelnut lattes. Since moving up to the Northwoods I've taken up drinking these sweet coffee concoctions, and I've found them to be equally good both in the morning and in the afternoon when I need a little pick-me-up. However, hazelnut-flavored syrup used as most cafes is definitely on the "processed list," so if I want one, I'm going to need to make my own syrup.

Though I have the ingredients on hand, I haven't yet found the time to roast the hazelnuts, so I figured I'd start a little easier by making a vanilla simple syrup. I mean, vanilla lattes taste yummy too, right? Plus, a friend of mine put in a request for a vanilla simple syrup recipe, so I figured it'd be a win-win; I'd get to drink a flavored latte this morning, and my friend can learn how to make her own, too. This blog is nothing if not service-y, right? Ask and you shall receive.

As it turns out, making simple syrup is, uh, rather simple. All you need is an equal mixture of sugar and water, boiled down to slightly thicken it, and you're good to go. From this basic recipe you can make simple syrups in nearly any flavor of your choice -- last year I used fresh mint leaves to whip up a batch of mint simple syrup (perfect for mojitos). Hmm ... I'm thinking a cinnamon simple syrup could be a nice addition to an apple cider-based cocktail -- the options are endless!

Vanilla Simple Syrup (printer-friendly version)
makes about one cup

1 C filtered water
1 C raw (or granulated -- using this will result in a clearer syrup) cane sugar
1 vanilla bean

1. Add water and sugar to a medium sauce pot. Stir until most, if not all, of the sugar is dissolved in the water.
2. Split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the sauce pot along with the bean itself.
3. Place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
4. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
5. After 15 minutes, remove the saucepot from the burner and let sit for an additional 10 minutes.
6. Strain the syrup through a fine sieve. (The sieve I used wasn't particularly fine and there are still vanilla bean specks in my syrup; I'm okay with that.) Discard the vanilla bean.
7. Allow the vanilla syrup to cool completely.
8. Pour the cooled syrup into an airtight container. The refrigerated vanilla simple syrup should last up to one month.


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