Sometimes all you need is the taste of something to get you in the spirit of things. And sometimes that taste comes in the form of a syrup. This is not a recent discovery. A certain coffee chain has been capitalizing on this idea for more than ten years running and from late August straight on through to the New Year, eager customers can line up and get red paper cups filled up with a taste of fall (and a jolt of espresso).
But just in case you’d like to cook up a little fall flavor in your own kitchen, here’s a super simple recipe to make a spiced syrup, artificial flavors not included.
The trick is really just to make a simple syrup—equal parts water and sugar— infused with warming spices. In this iteration I used brown sugar instead of white, along with cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, cloves, and star anise. If you want something a little spicier, add in a few black peppercorns. If you’re not a fan of the licorice-flavored anise, omit that and add a few rounds of fresh ginger instead. If you’re hoping for a touch of citrus, add a bit of orange peel. Anyway you tweak it, the result will be a syrup good for drizzling on ice cream, dribbling into coffee, shaking into cocktails, and pouring into hot toddies. I used a small seive to strain the syrup over a measuring cup with a pour spout so that I would be able to transfer it more easily to a clean glass bottle. Kept in the refrigerator, the syrup will last for weeks and weeks. and certainly through the holiday season, unless you finish it all first. If that’s the case, lucky for you it only takes a few minutes to make a new batch. Bottled up, the syrup might just become a little gift to bring to your next dinner party. You know, the one you very well might be going to next Thursday.
Brown Sugar & Spice Syrup
1 cup brown sugar
3-5 cardamom pods
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
3 allspice berries
1 cup water
In a small saucepan, combine ingredients and heat over a medium flame until the syrup has melted, stirring occassionally (this part should only take a few minutes). Remove the star anise so that it doesn’t overwhelm the syrup, and then allow the other ingredients to sit for a bit, until the syrup is cool and the spices have sufficiently steeped. Strain the syrup and pour into a clean glass jar for storage. Will keep refrigerated for several weeks. Makes about 1 cup of spice syrup.