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5 Surprising Ways to Top Your Pancakes

In my family, summer vacations mean two things: vacation homes near some body of water, and lots of pancake breakfasts.

The two don't always mix. Being in a family or rental vacation home means being away from the well-stocked pantry of our home kitchens. So it would often happen to my mother-and now it happens to me more times than I'd like to admit-that she'd make a batch of pancakes, only to realize at the last minute that there was no maple syrup (and the grocery store is 20 minutes away).

But my family learned early on that not having maple syrup should never be a reason not to make pancakes. Instead, we got creative. We turned our jam into fruit syrup, or boiled berries with sugar until they turned into a sweet, warm sauce. Turns out there are endless options of sweet, syrupy things you can make to drizzle over pancakes. Here's 5 of my favorite methods to get you started.

This is probably the easiest, fastest way to get a delicious maple syrup substitute: mix some jam (or jelly, or preserves, or marmalade) with a splash of water in a small pan over medium heat. Whisk until smooth, adding more water as needed until you get a nice, syrupy consistency.

Simmer your favorite fruit with a bit of sugar and after a few minutes of reducing, you'll have a thick, flavorful syrup. Keep it simple with just fruit juice, or throw in some fresh herbs while it cooks for an added level of flavor.

Almost any fruit or berry, fresh or frozen, can be turned into a compote: just toss it in a pan (chopped up if it's big) with some sugar and a splash of water and boil until soft and syrupy. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, peaches, rhubarb, cherries, apples, and pears all work here.

Another way to get fruit soft and syrupy is to toss it with some sugar and roast it in a hot oven. The fruit pieces hold their shape here more so than in a compote, and develop a nice caramelized flavor.

Any topping you'd put on an ice cream sundae is also amazing on pancakes. Got some chocolate or caramel sauce in your fridge? Start drizzling! Or melt some chocolate into an even more decadent homemade sauce. Save some batter for after dinner-these also make a great dessert.


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