Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Back to Basics : Vanilla Syrup

I think the beauty of cooking is in the basics. If you can master these, I believe you can make anything. Not only can you make basically any recipe you want, but you know exactly what is in your food. NO preservatives, NO words you can't pronounce, No insane salt content or hidden sugars.

Does that sound like it would be too difficult?

It shouldn't! That's why it's called basics. If it does, fear not- it's not hard at all! In all honesty, the hardest part is finding the room to store all of your homemade goodies!

Today we start with Simple Vanilla Syrup. Add it to oatmeal or coffee, drizzle it over fruit or buttered toast, it has a multitude of uses! I keep it around mainly for my iced coffee for the summer. I happen to have a slight addiction to Starbuck's iced vanilla lattes, but a grande sized with extra shot of espresso is 520 yen out here in Okinawa is about $7 with the horrible exchange rates lately!  Enjoying a latte nearly every day is a huge chunk our of our "play money" spending budget, which in my defense we did set up to spend on things like this, I just know it's a lot to use when the money could be better spent on a dinner out to a nice restaurant.

Anywho.... after a significant tangent, lets get back to the sweet, vanilla-y basics.

I've played around with several recipes, and have settled on the one that gives me the right amount of vanilla flavor, syrup-y thickness without being overly sweet. Without further adieu...

Simple Vanilla Syrup

A ButterThanToast original

1 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt

Boil the water over high heat. While it's heating up, add sugar and salt. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds out with a paring knife. Add them to the water, cover and wait for it to boil. Once it hits a rolling boil, uncover and stir until sugar is dissolved. Simmer uncovered for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla extract and let mixture cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight jar in the  refrigerator up to one month.

For coffee, I use about 2 tablespoons of the syrup for 2-3 measured cups of coffee, depending on how strong it is that day.

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