Homemade Pancake Syrup Recipe

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Photograph: Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • A tiny amount of brown sugar is all you need for a rich and complex flavor.
  • Cream of tartar acts as a catalyst for acid hydrolysis, breaking a portion of the sucrose into fructose and glucose and making this syrup wonderfully smooth and thick.
  • Baking soda neutralizes the cream of tartar's acidity, so the syrup tastes deep and rich rather than tart or tangy.

Whether your heart belongs to maple or Mrs. Butterworth, made-from-scratch breakfast syrup will hit the spot in a pinch. It's ultra-luxuriously thick and rich, sweet but not cloyingly so, tempered with plenty of salt and vanilla—no corn syrup in sight! With just a touch of butter, it's perfect for drizzling over pancakes, waffles, and French toast, too.

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Makes: 12 ounces

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Ingredients

  • 5 ounces water (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons; 140g)
  • 9 ounces granulated sugar (1 1/4 cup; 250g)
  • 1 3/4 ounce light brown sugar (3 tablespoons; 50g) or 1/2 ounce dark brown sugar (1 tablespoon; 14g) (see note)
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1g) cream of tartar
  • Scant 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ounces water (1/4 cup; 55g)
  • 1/4 ounce unsalted butter (1/2 tablespoon; 7g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Combine water, sugar, brown sugar, salt, and cream of tartar in a 1-quart stainless steel pot. Place over medium heat and stir with a fork until bubbling hard around the edges, about 5 minutes. With a damp pastry brush, wipe all around the sides of the pot to wash down any visible sugar crystals. Clip a digital thermometer to the pot and cook the amber syrup until it registers 234°F, about 8 minutes.

  2. Immediately stir in the baking soda with a heat-resistant spatula (the syrup will bubble vigorously), followed by the remaining portion of water. Continue cooking until the syrup returns to 234°F, about 2 minutes longer. Pour into a Pyrex measuring cup to halt cooking, then stir in butter and vanilla. Cool to a safe eating temperature, about 100°F, and serve. Cover leftovers as soon as possible to prevent syrup from forming a skin and refrigerate up to 3 months in an airtight container.

Special equipment

1-quart stainless steel pot, pastry brush, digital thermometer, heat-resistant spatula

Notes

You'll be surprised at how intense a touch of dark brown sugar can be, so don’t add more than a half ounce until you’ve made a batch for yourself. For light brown sugar, you’ll need about three times as much to get the same malty flavor.

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