OK, I didn't actually buy the bottles until after I'd found some recipes and discovered how quick and easy it was. So, after a little trolling around the web, I culled a few super-simple (pun maybe partly intended!) recipes and got to work.
First off, realize that simple syrup is just sugar water - lots of coffee shops have it with the condiments so that you can sweeten cold drinks without worrying about the sugar not dissolving. But once you've made the simple syrup, you can add whatever flavoring you want. So you can choose whatever flavor matches your mood.
I followed this recipe from Cook Like a Champion
Peppermint Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon candy cane pieces, optional
In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Stir in the peppermint extract and candy cane pieces, if using. Cool to room temperature and store in a glass bottle in the refrigerator. To make the peppermint (white) mocha, combine one shot of espresso with 2 tablespoons peppermint syrup, 1 tablespoon chocolate or white chocolate sauce and desired amount of milk. Top with whipped cream and candy cane pieces, if desired.
A few notes:
- I did add some candy cane pieces to each bottle, as I wanted the pink color (clear just wasn't very festive!), and I felt it balanced the peppermint extract flavor a bit - sometimes it can be a little too harsh.
-The mixture ends up almost twice the amount of water you start with, so plan accordingly. I had way more than I had planned on since I didn't realize the sugar would add so much volume.
- I was surprised that you really do need 2 Tablespoons or more for an average-sized hot beverage. I'd recommend starting with less, but be prepared to add more to taste.
- I've been bad and just left my bottle out on the countertop and not had a problem for the last month. But I'm not going to recommend that and be responsible for someone getting sick. It's your call...
I had a lot of people excited about the gift but a little confused about when to use it. Well, it's really only limited by your creativity. I use it mainly in coffee or hot chocolate, but my sister loves it over ice cream or brownies, it could be used in lots of cocktails, you could freeze it in an ice cube tray and let it melt into a clear soda/ginger ale, add some water to freeze and make a grenade... Like I said, use your imagination. And just think of all the other flavors you could create!
I'd love to hear if anyone out there makes their own version and what you do with it!