You only need 2 parts sugar and 1 part water mixed with flavored-drink powder to make classic snow-cone syrup -- but you can do better. Snow-cone syrup is simple syrup -- the same ingredient used for cocktails, glazes and caramel -- with added flavorings. A little ingenuity in the flavoring department returns a wealth of variations on the common cone: Fresh-fruit snow cones, drunken snow cones, such as margarita and mojito, and alternative cones like honey with toasted orange zest use the same simple-syrup base.
Heat 2 cups of sugar with 1 cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.
Extracts, Juices and Beverages
You can flavor snow-cone syrup with juice, extracts, favorite beverages -- almost any flavored liquid. Bottled juices, extracts from the candy aisle and sodas all mix equally well with base syrup.
If you use extracts, stir in 3 drops per cup of syrup and taste -- it should be strong; add more extract to taste as needed. If you use juice or another drink, portion it equal to the amount of water used and stir it into the syrup. Next, simmer the syrup until it reduces by 1/4 to 1/2, or about 10 to 15 minutes per cup.
Fresh fruit imparts colors and tannins to syrup you don't usually find in juice. It does, however, take a little more time to make than juice- and extract-based syrup. You can flavor syrup with whole soft fruits, such as berries, peaches and cherries -- just remove the stems and any large seeds. Hard fruits, like apples and pears, need to be chopped and cored first.
Place the fruit in a heat-proof bowl. If you're flavoring with berries or soft-skin fruits, press them with a fork to break their skins. Bring the syrup to a simmer and pour it over the fruit. Cover and steep the fruit for four hours or until it develops the desired taste. Strain the syrup through a mesh strainer, pressing the solids with a spoon to squeeze out the juice.
The term "drunken snow cone" explains itself. It can be as simple as adding crisp, fruity rose wine to simple syrup, or an elaborate affair like a blackberry-lime rickey. You can turn any mixed drink into a snow-cone syrup, but add the liquor after the flavored syrup cools. Add flavoring agents -- such as juice, mixers and liqueur -- to the syrup while warm. Don't add sugar; the simple syrup has it covered.
For a mojito snow cone, add a few fresh mint leaves and lime juice to warm simple syrup and stir. Let the syrup cool and add a shot of spiced rum per cup.
Alternative Flavorings and Garnishes
Add something to nibble on while the snow cone melts by mixing chopped fresh fruit -- a selection that complements the flavoring -- in the ice before pouring the syrup over it. For an aromatic touch, add herbs and spices -- such as toasted orange zest, allspice and cinnamon -- with the water when you make the simple syrup. Replace one-fourth of the water in the base syrup with honey to make honey-flavored snow-cone syrup. As a guideline, you can use any ingredient you can get in liquid form -- strained pumpkin puree, for example -- to flavor snow-cone syrup.