Buttermilk Syrup

Before I started dating Marcelle she invited my friend and I over to have breakfast. She made waffles and buttermilk syrup. This is one of the best additions to breakfast since John and Will Kellogg started making cold cereal (and from me that's saying a lot!) After several large servings my friend suggested hooking the syrup up as an IV so that he could get it into his system faster. Not only is this syrup one of the most delicious confectionery concoctions (suitable to be eaten on just about anything), but it also is a great display of a multitude of kitchen chemistry phenomenon. I've now gotten ahead of myself, here is the recipe:
  • 1 stick butter

  • 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  • pinch of salt

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

Put the butter, sugar, salt, and buttermilk into your pan and just barely bring it to a boil. Take it off the heat and add the vanilla. While still warm and just before serving add the baking soda and stir, this will cause the syrup to foam and almost triple in volume (make sure there is room in your pan for this to happen). Now pour liberally over pancakes, waffles, and french toast. Also try it in combination with peanut butter and/or bananas, strawberries, and melon. Marcelle's favorite way to have it is on waffles with with fresh berries. The berries go in each little square and then you fill the rest of the square with the syrup. Yum!

Buttermilk syrup foams for the same reasons that baking soda and vinegar make fun volcano's, except the acetic acid has been replaced by lactic acid.

The first step is the protonation of the bicarbonate (HCO3- ) to form carbonic acid (H2CO3). Carbonic acid is in equilibrium with carbon dioxide and water as seen by the following reaction.

The equilibrium constant (k1/k-1)in this reaction explains why the CO2 evolves rapidly. The rate constant for the forward reaction, k1, is 23 s-1. The rate constant for the reverse reaction, k-1, is 0.039 s-1. So the equilibrium constant (k1/k-1) in this reaction is ≈590 which lies heavily in favor of the products.

Now go and make your own kitchen chemistry marvel.

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