I may have finally redeemed myself thanks to this Mint Basil Syrup. You notice I used the word "may" .......... For the last twenty or more years, ever since I started a love affair with fresh herbs, there's been a (mostly) unspoken battle going on between my dear husband, Scott and myself. It's called MINT, and if you grow it now or if you've grown it in the past, you will probably understand exactly what I'm talking about.
I love the stuff. It's bright and fresh and, here in North Carolina, it grows pretty much all year long. We can have the worst winter weather, then a day or two of warm sunshine and there's my beloved mint, poking up it's perky little green leaves as if to say "Hello world, hope still abounds in the herb garden!".
I'm forever pinching or cutting a bit here or there to adorn appetizers, soups, salads, desserts, sauces and entrées. To me the bright green, crisp leaves add a touch of elegance and freshness to otherwise plain, ordinary dishes. I'll even pick a bunch and put it in a pretty vase to brighten up the kitchen. I love the stuff.
Scott .... not so much. My beautiful mint would probably be described by him as a nuisance rather than a (culinary) necessity, as it is to me. He calls it an "invasive weed". It creeps, without permission, into his lovely verdant grass and knows no bounds in his tomato and flower gardens. Being the resident gardener, he's forever trying to control it's exuberant, voracious growth, and there's even been a time or two that he's tried to permanently extinguish my little herb friend. (He probably wouldn't admit this, but I know it's true.) He and mint have just never seen eye to eye.
I served this:
And perhaps, just perhaps, I've finally redeemed myself. He loved it.
I think you will too. It's delightful on fresh fruit, chocolate, ice cream, panna cotta, yogurt, pancakes, waffles, in lemonade, whipped cream, icings, ice tea .......... and a zillion other things. Whip up a batch for a little culinary magic. You never know when you might need a bit of redemption ..........
P.S. That lovely chocolate dessert pictured above is amazing and probably the easiest dessert I've ever made. Chococlate Pots de Creme - you don't want to miss this one!!
- ¾ cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool while preparing the herbs.
Bring a medium size pot of water to a boil. Add herb leaves leaves and stir to submerge. Cook for 15 seconds, then immediately pour into a fine sieve* to drain. Rinse the herbs under cold water for 10-15 seconds to stop the cooking process. Don't omit this blanching step. This will keep your syrup bright green and fresh for days. If you don't blanch the herbs, the resulting syrup will turn a muddy brown color. Blanching also inhibits the growth of enzymes which will cause the syrup to quickly deteriorate.
Allow the herbs to drain, then place between several thicknesses of paper towels and squeeze gently to remove excess water.
Combine cooled sugar solution and blanched herbs in a blender. Puree for 2-3 minutes until mixture turns a bright green color and herbs are finely pureed.
Pour into a bowl, straining through a fine-meshed sieve. Allow to sit for a few minutes to drain. Do not push on solids in sieve. Discard solids and transfer syrup to jars or containers with a tight seal. Will keep, refrigerated for several weeks. It can also be frozen in glass jars (leave ½ inch of space at the top) for a delightful summery treat in the middle of the winter!
*The finer the sieve, the less tiny pieces of herb will be in your syrup. The syrup will also be more transparent when drained through a very fine-meshed sieve.