I love to cook and bake. I especially love baking healthy treats for my kids. Full of nutrition, yet tasty too! I used to scroll through recipes online and see sooooo many that call for maple syrup, as it is less processed than cane sugar so a lot of people like to use it. But who can afford to use maple syrup in Malaysia??
Even using it for pancakes gets expensive!
So at first I used to use organic unrefined cane sugar and make it into a syrup as use that in recipes instead of maple syrup. And it worked fine, but I like to keep my use of cane sugar for special occasions.
One day I saw a jar of gula melaka syrup in the store and I bought it. Yum! I liked that it was way cheaper than maple syrup, and I also liked that it had a good flavor and was less processed than cane sugar. Unfortunately, it wasn’t widely available.
So I started making my own and have been for years! Now I know that Malaysians use gula melaka for a lot of local delicacies and many probably make it into a syrup, but just in case you haven’t thought about it, you can use it anywhere a recipe calls for maple syrup!
Here is how I make it:
Get a pack of traditional gula melaka
Place the pieces into a small saucepan
Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of water (more water will give more syrup, but not quite as sweet). If you use less than a cup of water it will be too thick and will often re-crystalize.
Heat on medium/low until it comes to a simmer. Stir occasionally.
Adjust heat as necessary to keep the syrup at a simmer. If the heat is too high, it WILL boil over! That is not a fun mess to clean up. Trust me! hahaha!
Keep stirring occasionally, reducing the heat if necessary. When the blocks become pretty soft you can use a spoon to cut them in half while still in the pan. This just makes the dissolving faster.
Stir and scoop repeatedly from the bottom to make sure all of the gula melaka has been dissolved. Turn off the burner and let it cool for a few minutes. Pour through a metal sieve into a clean jar (I use two clean jam jars for each batch, it usually fills one and half of the jam jars). You don't have to pour it through a sieve if you don't want to, but because of the way this is traditionally made, you'll sometimes find residue in it. Bits of burnt stuff, or even parts of or whole wasps! eek!
You can use this syrup as a direct substitute for maple syrup in recipes. I haven't come across any recipe where it didn't work. It is tasty, unrefined, and soooooooo much cheaper than maple syrup!!! We also enjoy it on pancakes, oatmeal, etc. Let me know if you give this a try and what you like to use it for!