The other night, I had just popped the top on my soda can, when I noticed: it wasn't diet. Gasp! I count all of my calories, and there's just no room for 160 of them to come from a drink. Turns out, I had grabbed the wrong 12-pack in HEB, so I was stuck with 11 cans of something I couldn't drink (unfortunately, I think I drank one, but what's drunk is drunk).
I suppose I could have just given them to someone, but that's not the way my mind works. I wanted to think of some way to cook with this stuff. There are a variety of recipes using sodas as a sort of marinade for roasts, hams, etc. Which sounds intriguing, but with the possible exception of Salt Lick BBQ, I find meat less tempting a treat than something sweet and possibly baked. And so I wondered whether this root beer couldn't be reduced into a concentrated syrup. Why not? The idea is the same as with most reductions: heat to boiling, reduce to simmer, stir occasionally and remove from heat when desired thickness. It was after all just sugar, water, and bubbles.
And some unpronounceable chemicals, which I couldn't predict the reactions of. That lead me to search online for examples of successful results. There weren't many, but there were a few. And having nothing to lose but a little time effort, I poured a few cans' worth into a pot and set it simmering.
The first time, I burned it. My own fault, because I let it go too long without checking it, and as with any reduction, it's a fine line between done and done for. The second time around, I knew to be more careful, and set five cans a-simmering once more. I didn't keep an eagle eye on the clock, but it was between an hour and an hour and a half before it was right where I wanted it. Essentially, you want a syrup that's on the thinner side and doesn't taste like burning.
Just stop when you're comfortable with the consistency if you try this
yourself. I wasn't comfortable going any thicker because I didn't want to burn it again.
I poured dark brown elixir into a glass jar, which I pre-warmed by filling it halfway with water and microwaving, then pouring out the water. This was just to make sure the hot liquid wasn't going into a relatively cold container and causing disaster. Out of the 60 fl oz that were originally contained in the five cans, I estimate that I have about 12-14 now.
I let this cool, and it's now resting in the fridge to be used as a soak for cupcakes, syrup for pancakes, etc. The possibilities are endless. Be on the lookout for root beer-infused treats in the near future!