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Flavored syrups are having a moment right now. Passion for cocktails and mocktails (especially Italian sodas), not to mention our ongoing love of creative coffee drinks, just seems to be growing and growing. And now, with the need to indulge that passion at home, syrup makers that used to sell just to the restaurant and bar trade are shifting gears and selling direct to us, the consumer.

Lucky us!

Flavored syrups for coffee… and beyond!

You might be most familiar, if you’ve ever peered closely at that rack of brightly labeled bottles behind the counter of many old-fashioned coffeehouses, with the name Torani. In the syrup business since 1925, the company currently offers more than 150 different products to choose from in every conceivable flavor selling in stores around the country (and online, here).

But that’s not where the fun stops. Independent syrup makers are popping up all over—my local favorite is Chicago’s Jo Snow Syrups’s line of small-batch all-organic, all-natural syrups made with unique flavors like Woodruff or Fig Vanilla Black Pepper. (Check them out online, here.)

RELATED: Does Syrup Ever Go Bad?

Me, I keep a large bottle of Torani Lemon Syrup with a pump dispenser in my kitchen for all sorts of sweet and savory uses, and my collection of specialty Jo Snow flavors includes Lavender, Cardamom Rose, Grapefruit Rosemary, and Honey Bourbon.

Using these syrups in beverages, or homemade snow cones, is a natural. But flavored syrups have become a useful tool in my cooking pantry, so here are 4 fun ways to use them that might make you seek them out!

1. Jazz up a simple syrup

If you have a recipe that calls for making a simple syrup to use for a soak for cake layers, as a liquid for poaching fruits, or as a maceration for fresh fruits for things like shortcakes, you can swap in a flavored syrup to either boost the existing flavor—strawberry syrup ($9, on not quite ripe enough strawberries, say—or to complement. (Anyone for coffee syrup ($13, soak on chocolate cake? I thought so.)

2. Sub in for traditional sweeteners

Anywhere I have a recipe that calls for honey, maple syrup, date syrup, or pomegranate molasses, I can think of a flavored syrup to use instead. Some of these flavors can really make salad dressings, pickling liquids, and brines sing. I use my Torani Lemon for this all the time, but also some of the spicier syrups work really well… I am addicted to using my Jo Snow Balsamic Black Walnut in salad dressings.

3. Amp up your frozen desserts

Ice creams and sorbets often suffer from the dulling of flavor in the freezing process. Adding an extra boost with a flavored syrup in place of about 1/4 of the recipe's sugar can be a terrific way of keeping things zingy! Even better, as an invert sugar, syrup will actually help keep the texture of your frozen treats smooth. In terms of choices, you can use the flavor of syrup that matches the flavor of your treat—Peach Syrup ($13, in peach ice cream, for example—or go for a booster like Cardamom Rose in a mango sorbet.

RELATED: 38 Easy Homemade Ice Cream Recipes

4. Glaze everything not nailed down

From donuts and pound cakes to Bundts of every shape and size, there’s never been an easier glaze than a flavored syrup with enough confectioners’ sugar mixed in to achieve the texture you want.

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