Recently, I prepared Vanuatu Ginger Cake with lemon icing for which I needed treacle or its substitute golden syrup. I also promised I would share a cheap and easy golden syrup recipe with you the way I make it so let’s get down to it!
Cooking sugar is a science
To make long story short, golden syrup is made by slow cooking of three ingredients: sugar, water and acid. As soon as it reaches a certain degree, it is ready to be poured into glass jars and will be ready to get served once it cools down (unless you can’t wait and in that case – dig in!).
If you’ve ever tried to make candy, you know that cooking sugar is a real science. I might tackle the topic in the future and write an article about it. But for now, have a blind faith in me when I say that you DO NEED a THERMOMETER when handling sugar. The higher temperature sugar reaches, the harder it gets. You want your golden syrup to be viscous and not solid, right?
In case of making golden syrup, it’s not a big deal if you miss the desired temperature and cook the syrup longer. In order to make it liquid again, you would have to add water to the mixture and cook it again. It’s just time-consuming and zero fun, that’s all.
So do get yourself a cooking thermometer because it’ll come in handy when you start making candy with me! 😉
Good advice is better than gold
Hint N°1: As I’ve already mentioned, get yourself a cooking thermometer. I recommend a digital one so that you can be absolutely sure about the temperature. Also, use a saucepan with thick bottom so that the sugar doesn’t get burned.
Hint N°2: Using a silicone brush dipped in water, clean the sides of the saucepan from time to time. If you skip this step, small sugar crystals will get in the syrup and spoil its smooth texture.
Hint N°3: Be extremely careful because boiling sugar can quickly get you from the comfort of your kitchen to the emergency room with 3rd degree burns.
Last but not least, those who are not familiar with the consistency of golden syrup, remember that it should be a bit runnier than honey. So even if the syrup reaches the right temperature and gets golden but looks too runny to you, don’t worry; it will get thicker while cooling down. Really. 😉
The cooking time may vary – I live in 5000 feet above sea level so it takes me longer to make the golden syrup. In general, it should take you around 45-50 minutes.
Lemon juice or vinegar?
Once I didn’t have any lemons left at home and didn’t feel like going shopping so I used vinegar instead. And not some fancy kind of apple vinegar but the worst kind ever – synthetic white vinegar which I usually use for cleaning purposes. Nevertheless, it worked out great! The syrup didn’t smell bad neither did it have a different taste. It is true that lemon juice will give the syrup a bit of a fruit zing but use any kind of acid you feel comfortable with (lemon juice is my favorite, for now).
A little trick in the hour of need aka troubleshooting
If you cook the syrup too quickly, it won’t have the nice golden color at 239F that we’re looking for. In that case, a little trick will help – in a small saucepan, make caramel from 1 TBSP sugar and 1 TBSP water. Cook until caramel gets golden, and then pour it into your syrup. Stir well in order to combine the syrup and caramel together and cook till the thermometer indicates 239F again. Your syrup should get desired color and consistency, yay!
What can you use the syrup for?
Some countries are not very familiar with golden syrup. I agree that it’s not the healthiest product of the year but I like to think that whatever we eat with moderation is fine. Therefore, pour the syrup over pancakes, sweeten your tea or favorite smoothie, or make mooncakes…
Please share with me YOUR FAVORITE WAYS of using golden syrup!