In suggesting gifts: Money is appropriate, and one size fits all. – William Randolph Hearst
|Vanilla beans. Do not be afraid of them. Photo: kendiala, Flickr ccl|
Spoken like a true greedy capitalist, eh? I find gifts that are given with love and thought—even if they're a stone—are much more precious than gold and silver. When you make a gift you are giving of yourself. Your time, your thoughts and your heart.
There are tons of homemade gifts to make. This one's not only easy, but also "gourmet."
I often crave vanilla milkshakes. A REAL malt shop vanilla milkshake – not what passes for a shake at any of the fast food joints. They make my craving worse, if that’s possible.
|Mmmmmm. Photo: roboppy, Flickr ccl|
Vanilla "flavoured" milk shakes from the grocery store are even worse. Why can't anyone do it right? I suppose it's because their price point would be too high, or any of the other thousand reasons companies have for selling us watered down, poor quality crap.
Milkshake ingredients are simple enough: milk, vanilla ice cream and vanilla syrup – then “shake” it. I should know. When I was in my teens I spent two summers working in our local Fire Department canteen. We did a bustling business of french fries, burgers, fish and chips and milkshakes from May through to September. I know how to make a shake.
There are still places that make excellent shakes – usually smaller eateries that still have the old "all metal" milkshake machines from the 60s or 70s. I've recently been to a place where they fill your shake glass and sit the remainder on your table still in the metal cup. (Look for places that have swivel stools lined up at a counter…)
The Hamilton Beach® Drinkmaster® was what we had in the old canteen. We actually had three of them lined up. HB still makes milkshake machines for the home, but they’re mostly plastic and just aren’t the same.
|The Drinkmaster®. Photo: postbear, Flickr ccl|
Burger establishments that take care in what they put on your plate are harder to find these days, being forced out of business by the fast food big players. Kids nowadays don't know what they're missing.
So you decide to make a shake at home. Have you ever tried to find milkshake syrup? Impossible to find in a grocery store – at least the real stuff. Don't be fooled into thinking that chocolate sauce and strawberry (or caramel) ice cream topping are syrups for milkshakes. They are not.
The sad thing is they don't even make a topping variation for vanilla. I guess you're supposed to sprinkle artificial vanilla on your ice cream. Well no longer.
This recipe is the real deal. Flavourful vanilla syrup that can be used for making REAL milk shakes or in a myriad of other ways. Sweeten your coffee, stir into plain yogurt or drizzle as a glaze on fresh baked goods. Substitute this syrup for your regular pancake syrup for a real morning treat! The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
I’ve already posted a recipe for a very fiery mexican chocolate syrup here. Other syrup recipes will surely follow. Not sure when, but they will. How else will you make all your milkshakes?
Makes 2 jars of about 1-1/4 cups syrup
2 cups white sugar
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean
2 cups white sugar
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean
Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan. Slice open a vanilla bean lengthwise and drop it into the saucepan with the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer, stirring to ensure all the sugar crystals have dissolved.
Once it has come to a simmer, let it cook for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes, remove the syrup from the heat.
Take the bean out of the syrup and cut it in two equal pieces. Place each half in a jar. Top with the hot syrup and seal.
For 6 week life: Cool completely, then store in the refrigerator to use as needed. The syrup will keep for at least 6 weeks in the refrigerator. I used decorative bottles for gift giving so I couldn't do this next step.
For longer storage: To make the syrup shelf stable, use small mason jars and hot water process for 10 minutes. This will let you store your syrup outside of the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
After opening, refrigerate and the same 6 week rule applies.
|The syrup will darken slightly over time. If you're looking for brown colouring you're|
out of luck. That's artificial.
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