Vanilla pudding was the finishing touch of a fine dinner served at Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails in Detroit.
But it wasn’t just any vanilla pudding. This ultra-creamy pudding was topped with bourbon-spiked whipped cream and pieces of crisp, buttery rosemary shortbread cookie. But the true highlight was hidden underneath: A pool of chartreuse-hued syrup. Sweet but with a herbacious side, the syrup was scented with basil and tasted simply divine.
You needed a little dab of syrup with each bite because it brought all the flavors together perfectly. I say little, because the pudding serving was generous and I wanted to have enough syrup with every spoonful. Most diners at our table wanted more of the “green stuff” as one put it. Ditto with the rumblings I heard afterward.
My thoughts turned to making simple syrups and, well, how simple they really are. Easy to make and super versatile, the syrups can be served over ice cream and puddings and used in many other desserts. Simple syrups are also essential in some cocktails and other nonalcoholic drinks.
Called simple, they require only sugar and water. The basic recipe is equal parts sugar and water brought to a boil in a saucepan. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and stir until the sugar dissolves. That’s it. You can keep the syrup in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 weeks.
The beauty of simple syrups is you can also infuse them with other flavors. In the case of the Chartreuse pudding, it was basil, although you can also make thyme, tarragon or mint.
Once you make the syrup, you can store it in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks. Drizzle it over ice cream or fresh or grilled fruit, especially tropical fruits like mango, kiwi and papaya. Mix it in lemonade or many summer cocktails like a margarita.
Basil-Infused Simple Syrup
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
Wash the basil leaves under cool water.
Combine and water, sugar and basil in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to about medium. Cooking until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool. Strain mixture into a container. Discard the basil leaves.
Yield: About 1 cup.