Test Kitchen tips: Simple syrup
Also called sugar syrup, simple syrup is a basic solution of sugar and water that has been heated until the sugar is completely dissolved. Simple syrups are used in a variety of recipes in the kitchen, whether brushed over cake layers before frosting to add moisture, tossed with fruit salads to sweeten, or shaken with cocktails for flavor and balance.
The ratio of sugar to water in a simple syrup can vary depending on its use in a recipe, but a good basic standard is equal parts of each: 1 part sugar to 1 part water. To make simple syrup, cook the water and sugar in a saucepan over high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes, depending on how much you are making. Simple syrup will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to a few months.
For extra depth in the final dish, flavor the syrup. Add the peel from citrus fruit to the water and sugar before cooking the syrup, or steep fresh herbs or spices with the syrup as it cools. Stir a little liqueur or fruit jelly in with the syrup to boost the flavor. You can even replace the water with fruit juice, tea or coffee before making the syrup.
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-- Noelle Carter
Photo: Simple syrup variations, from left: orange, cassis, vanilla and cinnamon pepper caramel syrup. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times