Just a quick bonus post this week to highlight all the sugar we made over the weekend (because they may appear on the blog at a later date as suggested garnishes), starting with the wonderful maple-rum cream that was inspired by a comment on this post:
variation inspired by a comment on this post
3 parts grade-B maple syrup to 1 part dark rum (For this batch, that meant 2 1/4 cups syrup to 3/4 cups rum.)
The notes on the post linked above are good ones, so we encourage you to read it closely, watch the ATK video, and approach this process with precision in mind. We will note that it took even longer for us to stir the mixture to cream--a full 40 to 45 minutes--but we were handling the workload alone. Plus, we don't doubt that the sugar content of the grade-B syrup and the addition of alcohol might have upset the process (we get excited about the chemistry of cooking, but lack sufficient respect for it when adding delicious booze and using the tastiest syrups are involved). Additionally, like hers, our result was quite firm, but wonderfully silky, and it responds readily to heat. Melts in your mouth. Watch carefully when rewarming.
Next, we found out about apple molasses, or boiled cider. Since it's February, there's no cider to be found, but we checked the co-op juice aisle and found Field Day brand unsweetened, unfiltered apple juice. Since the only difference we could discern was pasteurization, we refused to believe that we couldn't cook it down into something incredible. We weren't wrong.
We followed the instructions linked above, except for the starting amount. Rather than worrying with fractions, we decided it was easiest to work with whole numbers to reduce by one-seventh. Happily, boiling 21 cups of juice down to 3 cups filled a 750 mL bottle perfectly.
Pure Apple Syrup
Pour three cups of water into a soup pot and mark the level on the end of a wooden spoon or ruler. Empty the pot, pour in 21 cups of unsweetened, unfiltered apple juice (a 1-gallon jug, plus an additional 5 cups) and cook at a high boil until it's reduced to the level you marked on your spoon. (For us, this took a little under 3 hours.)
The syrup will continue to thicken a bit as it cools, and, at this level of reduction, settles at a thick, pourable syrup consistency (it does not get as thick as molasses) when stored in the refrigerator.