Hibiscus: A current fave in Paris + a recipe for using it in dessert at home

I originally made the syrup with dried hibiscus blossoms that I bought at Kalustyan’s, but when Mary Dodd, who retests all my recipes, made the syrup, she used Celestial Seasoning’s Red Zinger teabags and had a winner.  Serve the syrup over rice pudding, berries, yogurt or anything vanilla – think vanilla pot de creme, panna cotta or ice cream.  It’s even good stirred into club soda or, better yet, club soda and white wine.

SPICE HIBISCUS SYRUP

From Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan 

1/2 moist, fragrant vanilla bean, split

1 cup (240 ml) water

1 cup (200 grams) sugar

10 black peppercorns, bruised

5 cardamom pods, crushed

Strip of fresh orange peel

2 tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers (or 3 hibiscus tea bags)

1 lemon, halved

Scrape the pulp from the vanilla bean and toss it and the pod into a 2-quart saucepan. Add the water, sugar, peppercorns, cardamom and orange peel and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Lower the heat slightly and boil the syrup for 5 minutes. Add the hibiscus flowers (or tea bags) and simmer for 2 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to steep for 20 minutes.

Strain the syrup, discarding the solids, and refrigerate until cold. Before using the syrup, squeeze in as much lemon juice as you’d like.

Storing: The syrup will keep for about 2 weeks in a covered jar in the refrigerator.

Dorie Greenspan

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