During the week I eat eggs for breakfast (sometimes with oatmeal, sometimes with toast). But when the weekend comes, there's nothing we enjoy more than homemade pancakes or waffles or hot French toast, swimming in a sweet little pool of syrup. (Add some bacon or sausage and you have the perfect salty-sweet combo).
I gave up on bottled pancake syrup about 18 years ago. Too expensive, too full of corn syrup and other nasty stuff. (Here's a sample ingredient list from a major American brand: CORN SYRUP, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, WATER, CELLULOSE GUM, CARAMEL COLOR, SALT, SODIUM BENZOATE AND SORBIC ACID (PRESERVATIVES), ARTIFICIAL AND NATURAL FLAVORS, SODIUM HEXAMETAPHOSPHATE. Ugh.)
Maple syrup is of course the all-time best pancake syrup, but the cost is astronomical. Honey is delicious, but also costs dearly (if you buy minimally processed local honey like I do.) Molasses is just too heavy for me, although Mr. M likes it. And I'm not a big jam eater.
So this recipe is a happy compromise: a simple brown sugar syrup that I can make while mixing up the pancake or waffle batter. It's fast, it's easy, and I know where all the ingredients come from. And no plastic bottle to recycle.
This recipe makes enough for 2 people with some left over - may be multiplied for larger groups. Note to my metric friends across the pond: use any amount of packed brown sugar, and a little less than half that volume of water.
Dump 1 cup packed brown sugar in a small saucepan. I like to add a dash of salt but that's optional. Add a very scant 1/2 cup water (about 1-2 tablespoons less than 1/2 cup). If you like a bit of honey taste, add a tablespoon or two of honey.
If you have small children, let them pour the water in. They'll probably get a big kick out of what happens next (the ones I used to babysit always did).
|Reminds me of the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz: "I'm melting!"|
Put the pan on the stove. Turn the burner on high, and walk away. That's right. No need to stir. The sugar will dissolve all by itself as the water heats. (If there are any really hard lumps you'll probably see them during the melting stage and can break them up then.)
Let the syrup come to a full rolling boil. Let it boil for 30-60 seconds, then turn off the heat. (It's okay if you don't catch it right away. A little extra boiling won't hurt. Just don't let it boil for several minutes or it will be too thick when it cools.)
I usually let it sit on the hot burner until the bubbling stops. If you like fruity syrup, you can add some frozen berries at this point, and leave the pan on the burner (remember, the heat should be turned off). They'll thaw as the syrup cools and you can mash them into the syrup before serving.
If you're not adding berries, take the pan off the burner when the bubbles have died down. Let it cool while you make your pancakes or waffles or french toast. It will thicken up nicely, and still be warm when you use it.
|Buckwheat pancakes with warm syrup. Mmmmm!|
P.S. You could also flavour the syrup after removing it from the burner. Some suggestions: vanilla or almond extract, maple extract, orange zest, lemon zest.
If your syrup turned out thinner than you like, boil it a little longer the next time you make it.
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