Maple Syrup Recipe : The Sweetness of Spring

Maple Syrup Recipe – I’ve been a bit negligent in my weekly ingredient series, but it’s back this week with a springtime favourite: maple syrup! For me, the news that the “sap is flowing”  marks the arrival of spring. Usually, this happens sometime during March when we also notice the days finally getting longer, the snow melting and the migratory birds starting to return.

Maple syrup is made by boiling down the sap of sugar maple trees (Acer saccarum), which are only found in the northeast of the American continent. Consequently over 70% of  the world’s maple syrup comes from Quebec, with most of the rest coming from Vermont and New York state. Occasionally red maple (Acer rubrum) and black maple (Acer nigrum) trees are also tapped. The sap that comes from the trees is thin and water-like with a mild maple flavour. It takes about 40 litres of maple sap to produce one litre of maple syrup!

The colour and taste of maple syrup changes during the season. I’m very partial to the amber grade syrup, which is darker and more flavourful. It’s great when you want to make sure the taste of maple rings through your baking or cooking. Amber syrup is collected towards the end of the season. Extra light and light syrup is collected at the beginning of the season. It is sweeter but has less maple syrup. I’ll use it when I want a local sugar alternative but not necessarily the maple flavour.

Nutritionally, maple syrup contains fewer calories and more nutrition than similar amounts of honey or corn syrup. It’s an excellent source of manganese and riboflavin, a good source of zinc, and a source of magnesium, calcium and potassium. Compared to table sugar, it has a higher glucose content (about 4:1 glucose:fructose; table sugar is 1:1).

Where to start with maple recipes? Here is a recipe for a Quebec classic, tarte à l’érable (maple syrup tart). Also to learn how to substitute maple syrup for sugar in recipes, click here for some tips from the Vermont Maple Syrup site.

Tarte à l’érable

Baked sweet pastry shell
1 cup fair trade or organic dark brown sugar
2 cups maple syrup
4 organic, free-range eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup flour

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and maple syrup over medium heat. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat and allow it to boil gently for 5 minutes. Stir regularly. Remove it from the heat and let it cool.

Once the syrup mixture is cool, whisk in the eggs, followed by the butter, and finally the flour. Pour the filling into the pie shell. Bake at 350F for about 35 minutes.

This tart is great served hot or cold, with ice cream or whipping cream. For an added maple treat whip your cream with maple syrup (about 2 to 4 Tbs of maple syrup per cup of whipping cream). I’ve also made this topped with meringue. To do that, you’ll have to take the pie out after about 30 minutes, top it with meringue and then put it back in to bake at a lower oven temperature (250-275F) for another 15-30 minutes or until the meringue is golden.

Here are some recipes from around the web to try:

  • Maple-Apple Tarte Tatin from Chatelaine
  • Gingerbread Cake with Maple Whipped Cream from Bon Appetit
  • Maple-glazed Salmon from Linda Stephen
  • Baked Spiced Butternut Squash with Apples and Maple from Bon Appetit
  • French Maple Dressing from Vermont Maple

How do you use maple syrup? What are your favourite recipes?

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