Saturday mornings are, for many, lazy affairs. Extra hours spent in bed, fingers lingering around the edge of coffee cups and pajama-clad children happily entranced in their cartoons. Not in my house though. With three young kids the Saturday morning routine starts at the same time as the Monday, Wednesday and Friday routine. Little Guy and I are up at 6:00 am, and the twins are up by 7:30. There are two differences though. First I try to let hubby stay in bed for a little longer and Little Guy and I make pancakes. The recipe changes week to week, but Saturday is pancake day.
Little Guy and I always battle on how much syrup he can get away with. Left to his own devices his pancakes would float like little rafts in a sea of syrup. I would prefer a small drizzle. We find a happy medium, but it’s usually one that makes him happy and me cringe. I cringe because I don’t want him having too much sugar, but I also cringe because of how much maple syrup costs. I loathe buying store-bought artificial syrups. They are full of artificial flavorings and strange thickeners and additives. I grew up on maple alternatives like pure cane syrup and southern favorites like Golden Eagle and Alaga, but those are not available up here in maple country.
I still love the rich heady flavor of cane syrup. Steen’s Cane Syrup is near-molasses like and my favorite on waffles, but on pancakes I want something lighter. Now that I live in New England I’ve grown to favor pure maple syrup and buy that for our house. Its wonderful and all natural. It’s local, sustainable and everything wholesome and good in the world. It tastes like heaven on almost anything. Oh and it is also insanely expensive.
So, I’ve played around a little with buying the mainstream pancake syrups. Many of them reek of fake maple smell and some even have strange oily and goopy textures. Trader Joe’s sold a very good pancake syrup, but last time I went to stock up it was missing from the shelves; something that is all-too common a problem at Trader Joes. Annoyed and fed-up with yet another disgusting bottle of syrup, I decided to try making my own.
My love of cane syrup led me to start with cane sugars instead of corn syrup. A combination of white and brown sugar resulted in a mild cane flavor without being too strong in flavor. It is almost a third real maple syrup so it has a rich natural maple flavor. People like to vilify corn syrup but it does have an unmatched ability to prevent sugar crystals from forming, so I added a little light corn syrup too. For additional flavor I add a few drops of almond extract because the small amount I use adds flavor without the cloying almond taste that too much can.
The only hard part of making this syrup is making sure you have an accurate thermometer. After throwing out at least four inaccurate candy thermometers, I bought one good thermometer that works for both candy and other foods. I use the ThermoWorks waterproof digital thermometer. It’s within a degree and half of accuracy at both high and low temps, and that’s by far the best results I’ve seen from a thermometer that costs under twenty bucks! It has the impressive range of -58F to 572F which makes it perfect for everything from temping chicken to candy making to frying. Oh, and it’s waterproof for all the times it ends up in the sink. I’ve never tested it but they claim it is even dishwasher safe! As far as I know, it’s only available via mail order, but it’s worth it. However, if you don’t have a good thermometer, then all you’ll need is a a large bowl of ice with a small bowl set in the middle of it. Cooling a small spoon of the syrup down as it cooks will get the perfect consistency as well as the thermometer.
The syrup is thick and flavorful. It tastes of maple and cane syrup which should make everyone at your table happy. It is sweet enough that Little Guy doesn’t need to float his pancakes, and it’s rich and flavorful enough that a small drizzle makes me happy. Even my die-hard maple-loving Hubby claims to now prefer this syrup to pure maple. Enjoy!I feel the need to add in this little disclaimer. Syrup is almost 100% sugar. All syrups that don’t claim to be light or sugar free are full of sugar. Regardless if it is 100% pure maple, honey, corn, cane or a combination of them, they are still sugar. There might be a slight difference in the Glycemic index (a reference number that provides information on how a food affects blood sugar) between different syrups, but none are recommended for those needing to control their sugar levels. If you are looking to stay away from sugar, don’t make this syrup.