Simple syrup is the most useful thing. It is mostly used in beverages, but can also be used to keep a cake moist and delicious. Why use it? Well, sugar and water don't mix well in cold drinks. To get a really smooth clear drink, the water and sugar need to be heated so that the sugar completely dissolves. It's really convenient as well, if you're making a large number of drinks. It cuts way down on mixing time.
Simple syrup is really, really easy to make. It is exactly 1 part water to 1 part sugar. Here's the basic recipe I use:
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
Bring water and sugar to a boil over medium high heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Use in your favorite drink mix, or refrigerate until needed. Depending on the drinks you are making, you can soak things (vanilla bean, lemon or lime slices, cinnamon) in the syrup as it cools. Once the syrup is at room temperature, remove the items you were soaking before refrigerating your simple syrup.
Next Tuesday, I will be posting a series of lemonade recipes. The lemonade is made with this simple syrup. Make sure and stop by!