Hibiscus Flower Infused Maple is perhaps the most misunderstood of all our syrups. The hibiscus imparts a strong, tangy raspberry flavor to the maple syrup that transforms it into something entirely different. A person who tastes it expecting a maple base with mild hibiscus, will instead get a ruby, rock-em’, sock-em’ syrup that is most closely compared to grenadine, that tart, pomegranate-based cocktail ingredient. It is a bold choice for pancakes but we prefer to use it for other things.
Once you get past what this syrup isn’t, you can fully embrace what it is and how many excellent uses we’ve concocted for it. The obvious place for it, given its similarity to grenadine, is in cocktails and drinks. These are two non-alcoholic drinks ideal for summer: Kick in the Pants and Mont Vert Soda. The first is a sweet-tart thirst quencher that is easy to make and really highlights the myriad of flavors from the hibiscus. The second is a European specialty that is simply seltzer, half & half, and syrup. Somehow this combination brings out strong notes of strawberry from the syrup and it tastes like a very light strawberry milkshake.
Of course, it is also perfect in cocktails too. The Opus 16 pairs it with gin and strawberries for a springtime treat. A slightly more involved drink is the Purple Rose of Cairo that also includes gin, but with some creme de violette and sparkling rose for a festive libation. If you’d like to keep it simple, though, just add a splash of Hibiscus Infused to Champagne for an easy and gorgeous Kir Royale. And, being a better version of grenadine, it is excellent in a Shirley Temple or Tequila Sunrise.
Another favorite use for this syrup is over strawberry ice cream. This unexpected combination was among the top rated of all the syrup-ice cream combos we tried. The hibiscus accentuates the strawberry flavor, bringing out floral notes you didn’t realize were there. In this recipe, we’ve created a simple cake for it but really all you need is the ice cream and syrup.
The Hibiscus Infused should not be overlooked for savory dishes. It is excellent over cheese, particularly blue, brie, and cheddar cheeses. Just put out a small ramekin of it for dipping or let your guests drizzle a little on their cheese and cracker.
You will find it also is a good substitute for any recipe that calls for pomegranate molasses which is becoming a more popular ingredient to have on hand for middle eastern cuisine. The sweet, tangy flavor adds another dimension to sauces and marinades, especially on roasted chicken and lamb. We created this fennel hibiscus chutney with these flavors in mind, which is intended for lamb kabobs but goes well with many different grilled meals.
In short, you should forget this is a maple syrup and think of it as a mashup of pomegranate, raspberry, flowers, strawberry and lemon that happens to have an all-natural sweetener as its base. Really, it is remarkable that it is made from just two ingredients: dried, organic hibiscus flowers and organic maple syrup. That it becomes something so complex and versatile is why we are so in love with it and always make sure to have it on hand.