(Approx. reading time 2 min 10 secs, last updated 10/July/2021)
Sweet sauces are all quite easy to make, and almost as easy to flavour. So, skip buying those expensive syrups for your coffee and fake instant custards. Instead spend 5 minutes and DIY it! The flavours and textures will be so much better. And you can even come up with your own ‘specialty’ flavours.
Next time you go to buy an overpriced sauce, go back home and prepare your own. It really is quite easy and extremely affordable: all you need is water, sugar, milk, and maybe eggs, and if you’re feeling fancy something to give it a bit of extra flavour.
Getting the ingredients
If you’re using water, use good water, and filter it if needed. Hard water will make syrups taste weird and can even crystallise it.
For the sugar, all you need is granulated white sugar, the cheapest and most basic of sugars. You can go fancy and use brown sugar for a different flavour too.
When it comes to milk and eggs, normal everyday milk and eggs are good. In some recipes, you can replace regular milk with flavoured milks, but it’s all trial and error, as flavoured milks could have ingredients that affect the outcome.
For flavourings, you can use almost anything: herbs and spices, tea leaves, coffee, fruits, chocolate powder, flavour extracts…. Your imagination is the limit!
If you are partial to alcoholic drinks, you can also use the simple syrup for cocktails, or the flavoured ones to make flavoured liquors. All you have to do is mix the syrup with whichever spirit you want, and you can drink it straight away. Flavoured liquors make for fantastic presents as well, one of my best well-received father’s day present was a bottle of vodka flavoured with rhubarb syrup.
There are two different ways you can make syrups. One is by using only a liquid and sugar, and the other one is by adding flavourings. The first option is easier, but the second one gives you more options for flavours.
You can, of course, combine both approaches for some really creative syrup flavours. Let me know in the comments if you do, I’m always interested in trying new things!
Simple syrup (and flavoured syrup replacing the water)
Bring 1 cup of water or your prefered liquid to a boil, lower the heat and add 1 cup of sugar. Mix until it the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool and keep in the fridge.
If you want the syrup to be thicker, boil it until it reaches the thickness you want. But be careful not to leave it on the heat for too long or it will turn into caramel! Alternatively, you can reduce the liquid amount or increase the sugar (or both).
Flavoured syrup (adding flavourings)
Mix your flavouring (herbs, spices, tea, coffee, flowers, fruit peels…) with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Depending on the flavouring used, you may want to take it out. If that’s the case use a metal sieve (plastic could melt) or a coffee filter to do it.
Bring the water down to a lower heat and add 1 cup of sugar. Mix until it the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool and keep in the fridge.
You can also boil it longer or modify the amounts if you want a thicker syrup. But once again, be careful it doesn’t become caramel.
All of these work great with coffee and hot chocolate.
- Orange syrup: (simple syrup process) 1 cup of orange juice, 1 cup of granulated sugar
- Peppermint syrup: (flavoured syrup process) 4 tablespoons dried peppermint or mint (or 4 peppermint tea bags), 1 cup water, 1 cup granulated sugar
- Gingerbread syrup: (flavoured syrup process) 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, 5 cloves, 2 crushed cardamon seeds, 1 cup of water, 1 cup granulated sugar