Thursday, September 2, 2010

Saguaro Syrup Cupcakes

 Saguaro Syrup

The saguaro (pronounced sa-wir-ral, like you're trying to say swirl but with a sa in the front) syrup is similar to maple syrup except not so insanely sweet.  It's like caramelized sugar that's almost too caramelized.  There's a slight bitter aftertaste to it but also very delicious.  It's also loaded with fiber!

Saguaro Syrup 3
As I mentioned in the previous post, this syrup is expensive.  I was doing some research and came upon a site called Acacia Artisans that sold it.  For a 1.5oz bottle it's $18.55 and for a 8 oz bottle it's $75.55.  On the website there is a description of the syrup:

Taken from

"Saguaro Syrup - Bahidaj Sitol. For the Tohono O’odham – the People of the Desert – the saguaro cactus is an honored relative. The towering cactus provides for the physical and spiritual sustenance of the people. The saguaro fruit ripens during the hot months of June and July and is hand harvested just before the torrential monsoon rains using a traditional picking stick up to fifteen feet high made of saguaro ribs. Traditionally, the fruit is made into syrup and the tiny black seeds and saffron like pulp are sun dried.

Thick and mahogany colored, this is the most rare of the world's fruit syrups. It is made from hand harvested saguaro fruit and cooked slowly over mesquite fires. The unusual, deep flavor is both sweet and smoky. Saguaro syrup can be used in a similar manner as the finest aged balsamic vinegars. It is excellent as a glaze, garnish or drizzled over fresh fruit or ice cream."

I found a cake recipe that used maple syrup.  Since the consistency of it was similar, I figured I could just switch out the maple for the saguaro.  The original recipe called for 3/4 cup of syrup so I decided to cut the recipe in half considering I only had about 1 cup.

Sounds easy enough right?  Not really.  If you look at the original recipe it says to blend the butter, eggs, syrup, sugar, and vanilla together.  This was strange to me because I've only seen one other cake recipe that didn't cream the butter and sugar together first before adding the eggs.  I went with my gut and just creamed the butter and sugar together.

Sugar and Butter

Then I added the egg.


Then the syrup and vanilla. I mixed those together as well as it would mix.  It ended up being kinda chunky but I figured it would ok once I added the flour.

I added the flour (I used whole wheat all purpose flour), baking powder, salt, and instead of walnuts I used almond meal (I sifted it all before hand).

Batter looked pretty... but just a little wet still.  


It made me a bit nervous and thought about adding a bit more flour, but decided against it.  

I waited anxiously by the oven door.  One mistake was I kept opening and closing the oven door to check if it was done.  Much like a sensitive souffle, it sunk because of the drop in temperature!  Once they were done... pretty much all of them had sunken in.

Cupcakes 2

After letting it cool, I took one and took a huge whiff of it in my nostrils.  Oh my word.. it smelled good.  I tried some... and it tasted really good too!  All I could taste was the syrup which was exactly what I wanted.  

I had enough syrup to make one more batch and since the first batch only yielded about 6 I decided to use up the last of the syrup.  But when I went to go measure out the ingredients early the next day, I realized that I accidentally ended up using HALF of the flour it had called for!  That's what happens when you try to adjust a recipe in your head!

NOTE: Always write down what you're doing and read CAREFULLY!  I've messed up so many recipes because I don't read it carefully first... and I try doing the math in my head.

So if you're wondering why I don't have a recipe for the cupcake it's because I don't know what I really ended up using.  Because I wasn't sure what I had done, I tried adding a bit more almond meal to make it  more firm since the first batch had so little structure to it.  But the second batch...


Looks pretty but it was really, I mean, really dense.  So much so it was more like a bran muffin than a fluffy cupcake.  Even for that recipe I'm not sure what I did because after adding the flour the batter was so thick I used the rest of the syrup (there was only about 2 tablespoons left of it anyway) to try to loosen it up.  So I didn't even get a chance to make an icing for it too.  I didn't want to put something too overwhelming like cream cheese on it or something too sweet like buttercream so I just left it plain.

Cupcakes 3

With only a cup of the most expensive ingredient I've ever bought (that is, most expensive per ounce) I managed to mess up in both attempts!  Talk about frustrating!! 

Cupcakes 4

Thankfully, a couple of my friends bought some too and one of them is willing to sell me the remainder of what she has.  Hopefully, I'll be able to have one more shot and making this first ever (at least to my knowledge) saguaro syrup cupcake!


  1. once you've run out of the syrup completely you might want to try using agave nectar. it's from the agave plant but it's cheaper and you can find it in grocery stores or health food stores like trader joe's or henry's. i'd imagine it won't give off a rich taste like the saguaro syrup looks like it would but it's worth a try.