Thursday, July 12, 2012

When life gives you non-diet soda, make syrup

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!


  1. How delightful that your disaster ended in victory! Rootbeer syrup cupcakes and pancakes?! Sheer brilliance!!
    xo Jaime

    1. No such thing as a mistake at the grocery store, just an unexpected opportunity! ; )